Summit County Rep. Logan Wilde Sponsors Resolution Opposing Wolf Re-introduction
Summit County’s District 53 Representative Logan Wilde is sponsoring a House Continuing Resolution to prevent the introduction of wolves into the state of Utah.
Republican Representative Logan Wilde sits on the House Natural Resource committee and introduced the continuing resolution bill 19 to assert a position statement opposing the reintroduction of wolves to Utah.
Voters in Colorado are being asked to weigh in on an initiative that would require state wildlife managers to reintroduce wolves to Western Colorado by the end of 2023. Wilde says Utah’s wolf management plan could be disrupted by Colorado’s plan if the measure passes in November.
“We have management plans for wolves. This circumnavigates those management plans, what Colorado is doing, and so we're just trying to make a statement and say, hey if you're going to introduce wolves, we oppose any artificial introduction. You need to go through the proper channels which is the US Fish and Game process that is with the Endangered Species Act."
Executive Director of the Western Wildlife Conservancy Kirk Robinson believes Wilde’s resolution is bluster because he says wolves are coming to Utah and feels it is important to find a harmonious plan to deal with it. He says rural representatives are not considering the scientific findings of the importance of predators to ecology of the west.
“It would be nice if these people would bother to educate themselves, but they live in a bubble. Part of the worldview inside that bubble is one that goes back 100 years or more and basically says if you live in a city and aren't on a farm or a ranch you don't know anything about wildlife. We don't need to read the science or pay attention to what the scientists say about this because we know from experience, and I hear that repeatedly at the legislature.”
Wilde says wolves stray into Utah naturally and as a sheep rancher, he believes natural introduction is a more viable plan.
“We do not have a current pack in the state of Utah but there's wolves that come through frequently. The property that I own, we have seen wolves there. And no, we don't go out indiscriminately and just kill wolves. We had one two years ago that was there in that area and the wolf left in about a week and a half and he went back into Wyoming."
Wolves are listed throughout most of Utah as endangered. A small area north of I-80 and east of I-84 have delisted the wolf which allows the state to manage, capture and kill them. The DWR and Utah’s congressional delegation have repeatedly asked the federal government to transfer all wolf management to the state. The current Utah Wolf Management plan was approved in 2005 and runs through 2020. The Utah DWR says confirmed sightings of a lone wolf are rare and they have not identified any breeding behavior in Utah.
Robinson gave public input on Tuesday during the Natural Resources House Committee meeting citing the importance of wolves in the ecosystem.
“Some of you may be aware that a family of wolves was verified to be near the Browns Park area in northwest Colorado just a few weeks ago. The location where they were found was 15 miles from the border of Utah. They may be ranging into Utah now. Wolves used to live here. They were an important part of the ecosystem here. They were apex predators. They were the custodians of the ecosystem."
Wilde says a manual re-introduction of wolves to western Colorado will cause management problems for sportsmen’s groups, livestock owners, the Ute Indian tribe and other political interests.
“Will they introduce them? How do we manage this? Is this a shoot on sight or do we wait for a conflict? What is the management plan?”
The resolution passed out of the house committee on a vote of 8 to 1 with Rep. Joel Briscoe the only nay vote. An audio recording of the committee hearing:
A link to Rep Logan Wilde’s full text of the Concurrent House Resolution opposing the introduction of wolves to Utah.