Updated: February 8, 2016, 12:18 pm
Getting gray wolves off the Endangered Species (ES) list has been a priority for the state of Utah for years. Delisting gray wolves would provide the state with the authority it needs to manage wolves that make their way to Utah.
In recent years, the Utah legislature has provided funding to an organization called Big Game Forever. The funding has allowed the organization to educate members of Congress and the public about why delisting the gray wolf is important. As per legislative and state requirements, Big Game Forever has submitted an annual report to the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) regarding its efforts to get the gray wolf delisted. The report covers the organization's efforts from July 1, 2013–June 30, 2014.
You can download the full report.
After many years of consideration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has made a formal proposal to delist the gray wolf. At the same time, the USFWS has also proposed adding the Mexican wolf, a subspecies of the gray wolf, to the ES list.
The Mexican wolf lives primarily in Arizona, New Mexico and Mexico. Many nongovernmental organizations have talked extensively about expanding the range of the Mexican wolf into southern Utah. The Utah legislature has not appropriated any additional state funds to work with Congress on these issues.
Greg Sheehan, director of the DWR, says his agency and the state of Utah are pleased that the gray wolf has been proposed for delisting. Among those who have supported delisting are former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, current Governor Gary Herbert and the state legislature.
"The gray wolf has exceeded its recovery goals many times over," Sheehan says. "We appreciate the hard work of Big Game Forever and other organizations to encourage others to support delisting."
Sheehan says he's also happy to see the USFWS honor its commitment to return management authority for gray wolves to the states. "We remain concerned, however, about the proposed listing of Mexican wolves," he says. "We'll continue to monitor the situation. Expanding the Mexican wolf, beyond its historical range, could have a negative effect on wildlife and livestock in Utah."