Garfield County commissioners say the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources allows too many elk on some cattle grazing areas of the Dixie National Forest.
Commissioners want the number of animals immediately reduced and brought into compliance with an agreement and management plan that limit those numbers.Stockmen are also complaining that their animal grazing permit numbers have been reduced because of the drought and that there have been no reductions in the wildlife herds, particularly the elk. Alfred Fullmer, a Piute County ranger, said his cattle grazing allotment on Jones Corral has been cut 62 percent.
Commissioners said they drafted a resolution which they hope will start a statewide movement by rural counties to encourage the DWR to follow its own original documents defining wildlife population numbers on public lands managed under the multiple-use concept.
The resolution requests a moratorium for five years, not allowing increases in the elk herds. It recommends that extensive monitoring and studies be conducted during that time to establish impacts of animal population levels on federal and private land resources and on business interests.
Drafting of the resolution was brought to light by Commissioner Sherrell Ott at a meeting of the Escalante Chapter of the Western Association of Land Users, attended by members of the land users group as well as representatives of the DWR. It was reported that opinions of those in attendance were expressed in "strong but polite terms."
The resolution further calls for the DWR to follow its own original documents. It notes that the state depends on private lands for wildlife habitat, and that those lands provide forage, critical winter range, water and open space needed for the wildlife.