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Northern Rocky Mountains gray wolf
The Salt Lake Tribune, January 27, 2010

Citing possible prison time, DWR boss speaks out against wolf-removal bill
By Patty Henetz

Utah's top wildlife official didn't care for a bill that would make it state policy to kill or remove wolves despite their protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

SB36, sponsored by Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, would create a dilemma for state officials, warned Division of Wildlife Resources Director Jim Karpowitz, who noted he could be subject to criminal charges if the bill passes.

"I'm not real big on the prospect of either state or federal prison," he told the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee. "I'm just not sure this bill's the way to go about it."

Utah has a wolf-management plan, adopted in 2005, that allows for two packs in the entire state. The problem, Karpowitz said, is the plan didn't anticipate the piecemeal approach the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has taken on removing the gray wolf from the endangered-species list.

Nevertheless, the committee advanced the bill it to the full Senate on Tuesday night.

The wolf has been delisted in the Northern Rocky Mountain Recovery Area, which includes the northeastern corner of Utah. But a federal judge in Montana soon may restore the wolf to the list in that area.

Wolves remain on the endangered list in the rest of Utah.

The substitute bill would make state policy to take wolves off the list for the entire state. In the meantime, the state management plan would be in effect.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton