The Humane Society of Utah is supporting a call by Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, for an additional 5.1 million acres of designated wilderness area in the state.

"Loss of habitat is increasingly becoming the greatest threat to our state's diverse wildlife," said Gene Baierschmidt, the society's executive director. "Already several species once native to our area, like the grizzly bear, Canadian lynx, wolverine, and timber wolf, are no longer found in Utah because of man's encroachment through mining, logging, road building and use of motorized vehicles."Baierschmidt also said the desert tortoise depends upon the Beaver Dam wash and the Joshua Tree natural area for its survival and that the rare desert bighorn sheep is extremely sensitive to the noise and pressure of off-road vehicle intrusion.

Protected wilderness provides security where animals can survive and grow to full maturity before mating, he added, thus ensuring that the best of the gene pool is bred to strengthen the species.

The Humane Society is asking its 4,000 members and other interested people to write the Utah Congressional delegation supporting HR1500, the Utah Bureau of Land Management Wilderness Act.

Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, has submitted an alternative bill calling for 1.4 million acres in new wilderness designations.