(KCPW News) While the budget bill Congress is expected to pass later this week removes wolves from federal protection in the Northern Rockies, it doesn’t go as far as Utah officials would like. That’s because it only applies a small part of northern Utah, explains Kevin Bunnell, Mammals Program Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.
“Some management authority is better than none, but it really puts us in an awkward position, because the legislature has told us that we can’t really implement our wolf management plan until the entire state’s delisted,” Bunnell explained.
The bill would reinstate a 2009 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist wolves in the same area, which was later overturned in court.
But Bunnell expects the battle over wolf management will continue.
“It’s probably not the end of the story, it never is with wolves,” he said. “I’m sure this is something we’ll be dealing with for quite some time, just because it’s such a complex issue.”
Wildlife advocates have decried the wolf delisting amendment as an attack on the Endangered Species Act, but Utah lawmakers on both the state and federal levels have pushed to allow the state to manage its own population.