Wolves in Utah

Information regarding the future of wolves in Utah

Meeting report Utah Wolf Working Group (WWG)

Meeting #1

November 10, 2003, Salt Lake City


Jim Bowns (part), Sterling Brown (alternative for Wes Quinton, part), Bill Christensen, Debbie Goodman, Allison Jones (part), Don Peay, Robert Schmidt, Randy Simmons, Trey Simmons, Clark Willis

Technical Advisors: Jim Karpowitz (part), Craig McLaughlin, Laura Romin

Missing: Bill Burbridge, Karen Corts, Mark Walsh; Technical Advisor Mike Bodenchuck

Facilitators' note: As participants are each invited to identify one alternate who may sit in when the participant is unavailable, we will distribute meeting reports and agendas to these individuals if you will provide us with their names and email addresses.

Decisions and action items

For this report, decisions and action items were left in their original places for context and are not repeated. Decisions and action items are underlined for easier reference.


Question: Why are you here? Why would you take the time and expend the effort to be part of this Working Group?

Interested in wolves re-colonizing Utah. There is a prospect of de-listing wolves, and a need for educating and informing citizens.

I have been discussing wolf-related issues in Utah for some time. When wolves were introduced into Yellowstone, it became clear that they could be moving into Utah. I have conducted studies of wolves.

My organization is the largest farm/ranch organization in Utah. I want to represent them here. We want to be at the table for any discussion of wolves and wolf management. I want to facilitate the continuation of the farming and ranching lifestyle here in Utah.

I represent the Wildlife Board, a group that has a big role in this process. I want to see a balanced approach.

I represent the Utah Wolf Forum. I'm a conservation biologist, and I've worked on many wolf and other T/E species issues. I "play well with others" and like to work in a group. I'm an advocate for a viable wolf population.

My specialty is wildlife policy and resolving problems. I have a personal and professional interest in this issue.

I have a sincere interest in wolves. I believe we need to manage wolves and I want a plan that is beneficial to all wolves and humans.

I'm interested in large carnivores in their role in ecosystems. I believe we need to base this plan on real data. I'm hoping to be a voice for rationality and protecting wolves.

I'm a wildlife advocate. I supported HJR12. I have an interest in state management of wolves. I have a diverse interest in all wildlife and recreation. I want to work with others to create this plan.

I've worked on Endangered Species Act issues. I have serious questions about what we're managing for. Is it protection? We need good science involved. Our language and assumptions are a cause for concern. There is a wide range of possibilities. We should let science guide our actions.

We have worked hard to re-establish game species in Utah. It will be a major challenge to keep ungulate populations stable in Utah, even without wolves. I have lots of experience in places with wolves.

Our livelihood is at stake. We need wolves not to put us out of business. We need to keep agriculture vital in Utah's economy.

Director Conway's presentation

DOW Director Kevin Conway gave a presentation outlining the history leading up to forming the WWG and identifying roles, responsibilities and limits of the group. He reviewed the WWG Charter and identified it as the "rules of the game" insofar as how the WWG was expected to function. He stated that the WWG product (the Utah Wolf Management Plan) would be reviewed with possible modifications by DOW, the Wildlife Board, and perhaps by the Legislature, before it is implemented. His presentation stimulated the following questions and discussion.

Questions and answers

Question: What is the role of the RACs? This is a high profile issue. We are dealing with a very controversial, state-protected species. The RACs role is established in the Utah Wildlife Code, and they must be involved. We have the ability to present the plan to them in a single-agenda-item meeting, or make additions to the normal RAC process.

Question: I am concerned that the RACS are not representative of all the people of Utah... They may or may not be, but HJR12 mentions them specifically, and they are part of the Utah Wildlife Code. They must be part of the process, but we need not necessarily use exactly the same process that we use for other issues.

Question: Do we need a legal opinion about the role of the RACs in this process? The language in the resolution says the RACs will "review, modify and adopt" the plan. Kevin Conway will ask for a legal opinion about their role, and the idea of adding to the RAC process, as it is normally used.

Question: Isn't it important that the RACs be part of the process? Yes. We want a science-based plan that will be accepted by the Board and the Legislature. Without RAC approval, it's unlikely that either will approve the plan.

Question: What about the public scoping meetings? Where will they be held? What will we ask the public? This will be discussed today. Good public scoping meetings will build support in the RACs.

Question: Does HJR12 carry the weight of law? No, but both UDWR and the Board are bound to it. This working group can work with the RACs to have special RAC meetings, etc. We can discuss this more later in this process.

Question: Does the WWG have to use only UDWR data? No.

WWG ground rules

Question: How will the WWG make decisions? Majority vote may not be the best way.

Consensus would be the best way, in a perfect world. However, it's costly in terms of time expended to make a decision. There are equal representation concerns. A modified consensus might be better. Consensus might be more powerful and persuasive with some publics.

Decisions on the overall plan will be made by consensus.
Decisions on portions of the plan or issues will be made by "consensus minus 2".

Question: Is May 1, 2005 really the deadline? May 1, 2005 is a firm target. It might be influenced by some factors.

Question: How will we communicate? WORD is preferred. Rich text format works best.

Question: How will the minutes of our meetings be distributed? The draft meeting record will be completed by DSG and distributed by e-mail to WWG members promptly. Members will review and any corrections will be made at the next meeting. When approved, the meeting records will be posted on the website.

Question: Will we accept public comment at the WWG meetings? We will accept some public comment at each WWG meeting, but it will be limited to no more than 30 minutes.

Question: Where and when will the public scoping meetings be held? In the following 10 locations, between March 8 and March 19, 2004:

Question: What format will we use for the public scoping meetings? The draft format suggested would include:

Question: Where and when will the next WWG meetings be held? They will be held in Salt Lake City, though not necessarily in this building, on the following dates:

There is a homework assignment for the Jan. 20 meeting: Review Wolves in Utah: An analysis

Question: Could we put out a draft plan for public comment? Yes. There are a number of options for obtaining comment on the draft document. It is not necessary to take it out for a second round of public meetings. We could take comments in writing, by e-mail, and utilizing the website. We could take the draft plan to the RACs, and then bring it back to the WWG for final changes.

Question: Can we bring in outside experts, with varying viewpoints? Yes.

Question: Should we develop some summary of issues and the body of existing knowledge to take to the public in the scoping process? Craig will produce a summary of biological and legal factors, to be presented at the January 20 meeting.

WWG members should send any issues, questions, or information they would like to see included in this summary to Craig by November 24, 2003.

Craig will present this to the WWG in January. The WWG will review and provide comments to Craig. The final summary will be completed by the February 24 meeting.

Best hopes/worst fears exercise

Question: What are your best hopes for this project?

We will be able to control wolf numbers to minimize livestock losses.

Wolves will have minimal impacts on ungulate populations, and wolf advocates will bring money to protect ungulate habitat.

Wolves will be managed, according to changing conditions and information.

We will develop a plan that accommodates all stakeholders fairly and equally.

That people realize that it is an ecologically viable goal to have wolves in Utah, and that the plan includes meaningful protection for wolves.

That wolves will be de-listed, and that the Board adopts our recommendations for state management.

A balanced approach to the problem, and a plan that receives consensus.

That I can accurately represent farmers and ranchers, especially those who will be directly impacted.

That we can develop a wolf management strategy that serves as a positive model for other states.

That we can develop a plan for a viable, self-sustaining wolf population, and that the plan uses innovative techniques.

Question: What are your worst fears for this project?

That our efforts will be hijacked by something outside out control, like the RACs or the Legislature.

That we will forget that our decisions affect both people and wolves.

That we miss an opportunity to share facts that would help the group.

That we become antagonistic and vindictive.

That we fail to develop a plan, or the Board does not adopt that the plan we develop.

That our plan is hijacked or over-ridden, so that it allows only a token wolf presence in UT.

That our plan accommodates stakeholders unfairly or unequally.

That our plan fails to manage wolves, using innovative management.

That unmanaged wolves will have devastating impacts to game populations and the associated social and economic values.

That our plan does not protect livestock producers in Utah.

Evaluation today's meeting

Question: What did you like about today's meeting?

The group memory was helpful.
The best hopes/worst fears exercise.
Good participation from WWG members.
Good facilitation.

Question: What might be changed, to make it better?

Might need an accurate record of exactly what was said.
There were three stakeholder groups absent.

Prepared & distributed by:
Walt Gasson & Spencer Amend
Dynamic Solutions Group