(KCPW News) A Utah Senate committee considered a bill Tuesday that would have brought the state in direct conflict with the federal Endangered Species Act. It would have allowed the killing of all wolves, a species still protected in most parts of Utah. But what passed out of committee was a watered-down version of the bill, according to the sponsor, Republican Senator Allen Christensen.
“It says we’re not going to go kill them, we’re going to say ‘Mother may I.’ Please U.S. Fish and Wildlife, please come and take care of these wolves. They’re where we don’t want them.,” he told KCPW.
When the federal government removed wolves from endangered species protection in 2009 in Idaho and Montana, it also included a small portion of Utah. While there are no known wolf packs in the state, Utah has a wolf management plan that allows up to 16 to eventually move here. But the plan hasn’t been approved by the U.S. government and Division of Wildlife Resources Director Jim Karpowitz says it’s unclear whether it still applies.
While he opposed Christensen’s original bill, saying he’d have to choose between going to a state prison or federal penitentiary, Karpowitz said he supports the version that passed yesterday.
“It sends a message in the first part of the bill,” said Karpowitz. “It makes it clear why the state is frustrated, and sends a message to the Fish and Wildlife Service that we would like to see wolves delisted in the rest of the state so that our management plan can be fully implemented.”
The bill passed with a four-to-two-vote out of the Senate Natural Resources Committee and now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.