Predators and their place in the world was the focus of this year's Utah Wildlife Federation convention.
And the man selected to keynote the meeting was the man currently embroiled in a hot topic to reintroduce one of the best known predators - the wolf - to once-native country - Yellowstone National Park.Congressman Wayne Owens is currently sponsoring a bill that would put the wolf back into the park. He reported that a group of experts would spend three days in the park this month to decide on what moves are needed to make the project happen.
"A couple of good hearings this summer and I think by fall the bill will pass the House. There isn't anyone to sponsor it in the Senate, yet, but I hope that will come," Owens said.
During the panel discussion on predators, he told the group that it was time that nature was put back in charge.
"Predators are important because its the way nature works out the balances . . . and the wolf is the missing link in Yellowstone," he said.
He also pointed out that predators help build quality.
"It's not perfect, but studies have confirmed that having preditors is not detremental to an area. It can be a good relationship between predators and game," he added.
Other members of the panel supported Owens comments.
Among those were Dr. Barry Gilbert, recognized expert from Utah State on the grizzly bear, and Dr. Jordan Pederson, predator expert for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
On Friday, the Utah Wildlife Board met to conduct business. Included in the meeting was the election of Bob Valentine as chairman to replace Dr. Paul Stringham. It was also reported that besides Valentine and Stringham, Warren Harwood would return to the board and that Robert Corey of Cedar City would replace Dr. Joann Bowns who recenlty resigned. The fifth board member is Dr. Hugh Hogle.
During the convention's awards ceremonies Saturday evening, Dr. Hogle was presented the group's highest honor by being named its Conservationist of the Year.
In other awards, club honors went to the Dixie Wildlife Federation as the outstanding UWF club and Tooele Wildlife Federation was named the National Wildlife Federation Affiliate Club.
Other individual honors went to Bill Mayne as Hunter Education Instructor of the Year; Bob Hasenyager, research consultant for the Utah Division of Wildlife, received the K.E. Bullock Awards as the DWR's outstanding employee. ; Brent Olsen, DWR conservation officer in the Southern Region, was given the outstanding officer award; Linda Varner and A. John Ruggeri each won outstanding Educator of the Year awards; and David Mills was named outstanding Bureau of Land Management employee.
The convention will finish up today with UWF business meetings and officer elections.