Wolf 253 Captures Heart of Yellowstone Wolf-Watchers

Wolf 253 Captures Heart of Yellowstone Wolf-Watchers

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Environment Specialist John Hollenhorst reportingUtahns want wolves.

And not just in Yellowstone, but in Utah, too.

That's the finding in a KSL-TV/Deseret News poll taken after the surprise capture of Utah's first confirmed wolf in 70 years.

Just by showing up last November, Wolf 253 definitely got people talking, and arguing a bit, too, about whether wolves in Utah are a good idea.

The legislature is devising legislation to help the state decide.

Meanwhile, life goes on for Wolf 253.

For a wolf with a limp, he's come a long way. From Yellowstone to Utah and back again.

"When he went to Utah, he did that on just three legs," says Rick McIntyre with Yellowstone National Park.

And wolf 253 has traveled from the hearts of wolf watchers...

"I guess that people always like the underdog," says Greg Gordon with the Yellowstone Association Institute.

...to the center of the debate about wolves in Utah, where ranchers wiped them out 70 years ago.

"They're a killing machine," says rancher Alvin Pierce.

It appears that most Utahns will tolerate some killing, if it's done by wolves. The KSL-Desert News poll shows strong, if not overwhelming support.

Twenty-seven percent strongly favor wolves returning to Utah's wild back-country. Twenty-six percent somewhat favor it; 10 percent somewhat oppose it and 17 percent are strongly against.

Overall, a two-to-one margin in favor of letting wolves do their thing if they come to Utah.

Meanwhile, everyone's wondering about the future of the critter that kicked up the fuss, Wolf 253. After his capture in Utah, the federal government gave him a free ride to Jackson Hole, and he ran the rest of the way home to his old pack in Northeastern Yellowstone.

"Fit right back in, as if he was never gone, and is doing well with his packmates," says Doug Smith with Yellowstone National Park.

When asked if he thinks the wolf is there to say, Smith says 'no.'

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