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That $300,000

Published July 17, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife wants Utah taxpayers to give them $300,000 to lobby Washington to fight wolf reintroduction in Utah. (Since when is the wolf not wildlife?) The payout proposal was made by state Sen. Ralph Okerlund in a meeting of the Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environmental Quality Appropriations subcommittee and received enthusiastic support from the group's founder, Don Peay.

Incredibly, not a single member of the subcommittee asked why such an extravagant appropriation of taxpayer money to a special interest is warranted, given that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has never proposed reintroducing wolves to Utah, and the state Division of Wildlife Resources did not support the request.

Wolves might disperse back to Utah naturally to resume their vital ecological functions, but that is another matter. In any case, in 2005 the state Legislature adopted a wolf management plan in anticipation of that eventuality.

For a state chronically on a tight budget, and chronically dead last in per-pupil spending on education, this waste of taxpayer money would seem foolish at best, malevolent at worst. Utahns do want wolves here and they deserve protection.

Tracy Swenson

Nibley