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Senator wants wolves destroyed

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

A Utah lawmaker says one way to manage Utah’s wolf population is to kill the polarizing critters.

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, is sponsoring legislation that declares all wolves in Utah should be destroyed or removed.

"We’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in our wildlife and our livestock in this state," Christensen said in an interview.

He said he expects state lawmakers to approve his bill at the upcoming legislative general session, which begins Jan. 25.

"Wolves are ruthless," Christensen said. "And they don’t always kill just because they need to. They kill things just for the heck of it."

Wolves are a major threat to wild game, he said.

"Look what’s happened to the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming," Christensen said. "Their wildlife is gone."

Christensen represents much of the rural East Side of Summit County on Utah’s Capitol Hill.

"This bill simply says any wolf within Utah will be captured and killed," Christensen said. "We don’t want any of them here."

The federal endangered list protects wolves in some states. Due to successful recovery efforts, however, the animals were delisted two years ago in all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, the eastern third of Washington and Oregon and a small part of Northern Utah.

A state or tribe has sole management responsibility of the animals once a species is delisted, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But Christensen said he wants to authorize the state Division of Wildlife Resources to eradicate or remove wolves from anywhere in Utah, which might be deemed unconstitutional.

"Among other things, the federal Endangered Species Act and federal regulations prohibit the killing or unauthorized capture of an animal listed as endangered by the federal Fish and Wildlife Service," according to the state Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. "While the wolf is not listed as an endangered species for the northeastern portion of the state, it remains listed as an endangered species for the majority of the state."

The state may face a lawsuit if the bill passes, Christensen said.

"It’s going to be a battle," the senator said.


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