No Future for Wolves in Utah as a Result of New FWS Proposal

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(10/12/2000) - There will be no wolves in Utah’s future if a proposal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is implemented, said Craig Miller, Defenders of Wildlife Southwest Director.

Currently, all gray wolf populations in the lower 48 states are listed as either "threatened" or "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). However, the FWS proposal would remove all ESA protection for most wild wolves, including any that might wander into the state.

Although there are no known wild wolves now in Utah, gray wolves lived in the state until the early 1930s when the last ones were killed by hunters and trappers. According to Miller, many scientists agree that suitable wolf habitat exists in Utah and, therefore, there is no credible scientific reason to remove ESA protections, as would happen under the FWS plan, for wolves that may wander into the state.

While there are no formal plans to reintroduce wolves into Utah, there is concern, he said, that without ESA protection wolves traveling from the northern Rockies into Utah would be killed. "The bottom line is that the FWS proposal will result in dead wolves or no wolves in Utah," said Miller.

"The FWS has done a good job initiating wolf recovery in some areas, but their responsibility is to recover wolves throughout a significant portion of the wolves’ historic range and that has not occurred. In addition, a troubling fact to us is that FWS has proposed an unacceptably low standard of recovery, which sets a terrible precedent for other species recovery programs nationwide," said Miller.

"We are in the midst of a 120-day public comment period on the proposal and I encourage the public to speak out forcefully in favor of scientifically defensible wolf recovery," said Miller.

"Defenders and our members are very committed to wolf recovery," stated Bob Ferris, Defender’s vice president for species conservation. "We purposely extended our wolf compensation program to cover areas where wolves can and should be, as described in our report Places for Wolves: A Blueprint for Restoration and Long-Term Recovery in the Lower 48 States."

The report, published in December 1999, describes the necessary steps for science-based wolf recovery in the contiguous United States.

Defenders of Wildlife created its Wolf Compensation Trust in 1987 to reimburse ranchers and farmers for wolf-caused livestock depredations.

Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wolf recovery. With more than 400,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.

Press Conference:

5:30 pm, Thursday October 12th
Hilton Salt Lake City Center, 255 South West Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah

Speakers will include:

  • Craig Miller, Defenders of Wildlife - 801-521-2930 x2164
  • Kirk Robinson, Western Wildlife Conservancy - 801-575-7101
  • Julie Hudson, Sierra Club - 801-467-9294
  • Margaret Pettis, High Uintas Preservation Council - 435-245-6747

Public Hearing:

The public hearing will be held from 1:00-3:00 p.m. and 6:00-8:00 p.m. also at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center. There will be a court recorder and hearing officer present to record statements by the public.

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Contact(s):

Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270

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