Wolf Draft Plan Hitting The Road This Week

Wolf Draft Plan Hitting The Road This Week

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A draft of the state plan to manage wolves in Utah's wilderness will be getting some public response this week.

The wolf working group, made up of animal advocates, sportsmen and ranchers, has been drafting a plan that would take effect if the federal government removes wolves from the endangered list and relinquishes its control over the animals.

Some want the wolves to retain some protection, while others feel livestock and ranchers are higher priorities. The draft proposal will be presented in a series of meetings this week in Beaver, Green River, Roosevelt and Brigham City.

"The plan is pretty reasonable," said Kevin Bunnell, mammals program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "There was a lot of give and take that took place. Everybody had issues. Not everybody is completely comfortable with it. But what we've got is a plan that's down the middle of the road. It's a pretty good compromise."

If the wolves are taken off the federal endangered species list, oversight of the animals will shift to states.

The greater Yellowstone area is already home to more than 700 wolves, which are expected to migrate to Utah within a few years.

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife founder Don Peay left the wolf working group after a meeting last month when proposals to add to the plan were shot down.

A proposed addition was to allow private landowners to shoot wolves on sight. Under the current plan they can only shoot if wolves are caught killing livestock.

Regional advisory councils, which will hear proposals at this week's meetings, will forward their recommendations to the Utah Wildlife Board.

"People need to understand that there are real advantages to having a plan similar to other states'," Bunnell said. "From the DWR standpoint, our main goal, and the goal of the Legislature, is to move management authority of wolves to the state as soon as possible."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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