If Noah lived in Utah, he'd be in trouble.
Utahns can no longer take certain creatures from the wild without a permit, the State Wildlife Board decided Tuesday.The list includes prairie dogs, Utah milk snakes, ferrets and spotted frogs. The board's decision also means that the next time the circus comes to town they too will have to register beasts like elephants, apes and lions.
Tim Provan, acting director of the Division of Wildlife Resources, said that restrictions were part of a comprehensive package of rules that classify "every animal in the world" and particularly those in Utah into three categories - prohibited, controlled and non-controlled. The guidelines say how animals are to be sold, released or imported in the state.
The rules apply to about 640 native Utah species. They do not apply to domestic animals like dogs, cats, horses or cows.
The board voted on an amended version of the rules that have been drafted over 21/2 years. The amendments relaxed requirements on several species of snakes that reptile enthusiasts objected to. Board members also relaxed rules on taking brine shrimp from the Great Salt Lake and some species like chipmunks and horned toads. In the case of brine shrimp, for example, someone can only remove 100 pounds a year.
"In all of the (amendment) cases we made it more liberal," Provan said.
In the case of some abundant small mammals, people can capture a limit of usually 3 or 4. After that they will need a permit. Provan said the DWR didn't want to stifle youngster's fascination with small animals.
The rules had earlier raised the ire of pet shop owners who sell tropical fish and some reptile owners. Provan said he believed the concerns were addressed by the new amendments, but expects additional comment from pet store owners.
The rules do not become effective until 30 days after public notification, which may occur later this month. If during the 30-day period there is no public comment the rules automatically go into effect. If there is public comment the board will again take up the measure in one of their meetings.
The rules are designed to protect species near extinction and also safeguard human health and the environment. The DWR's mandate it to protect Utah's native species. For example, if certain fish we allowed in the lakes and streams they could dominate the food supply leading to the loss of native species, Provan said.
Prohibited species permits can be granted for scientific and educational purposes.