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Utah Travel Headlines

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Could Wolves Again Be Living In Utah?

During the past couple years there have been a few reports of wolves traveling through Utah, apparently roaming south from Yellowstone as they look for suitable places to colonize. But the sightings have been fleeting, with no evidence of animals staying in our state.

Until now. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are now studying a remote area where there have been several sightings of four animals that are apparently staying put. Officials say they could be wolves, or they might be wolf hybrids.

The area is off the beaten path and inadvertent contact with humans is rare. Even in Yellowstone, where there are good numbers of established wolf packs, humans have to work hard to see them. Wolves are not a threat to humans but they do sometimes feed on domestic livestock.

Utah's DWR issued this news release about the sightings. The Salt Lake Tribune has this analysis of the subject.

The animals were sighted in a high mountain area east of Springville, which is located just south of Provo. If the animals are wolf-dog hybrids they will probably be destroyed. If they prove to be wolves they are subject to federal protection and federal biologists will decide what to do with them.

The idea of wolves re-colonizing Utah is the subject of considerable debate. Some Utah lawmakers would like to see a state law establishing a hunting season for the animals, even if a state law would be superseded by the federal protection.

Cattlemen are opposed to wolves because the predators can cause considerable damage to sheep and calves.

Whether these are hybrids or not, wildlife officials say it is only a matter of time before a resident pack of wolves is confirmed here. That is stirring considerable debate. Public input will be needed as lawmakers decide how to state will react to the animals.

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