It was announced last week that the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf was being officially removed from the endangered species list.

Which, to me, means a lot of people are doing a lot of things right.

Also taken off the list have been the bald eagle and Yellowstone grizzly bear, and there's a proposal to remove the brown pelican, which at 40 years is the longest resident species on the endangered species list.

There will, of course, be those who will go against those decisions. They will sue simply because they don't agree.

A suit has already been filed on behalf of the grizzly. Environmental groups claim removing the grizzly from the list was done for political and not biological reasons.

It's hard to argue with success, however.

One report shows the Yellowstone grizzly population has grown from an estimated 200 animals in 1981 to more than 600 spread over parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

Another report shows the current bald eagle population has reached 10,000 mating pairs compared to 400 counted back in 1963.

In the case of the gray wolf, 30 animals were released back in 1994 in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, which included one area in Yellowstone National Park.

In making the announcement, officials reported that the wolf had exceeded its recovery goals and is now thriving, despite an earlier report that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had not allowed enough room for the released animals.

Estimates put the wolf population in the three states at around 1,500, with at least 200 of those being breeding pairs.

What it means now is the three states will assume management responsibilities over the wolves within their boundaries. And, should the wolf ever make it into Utah, which is very likely, then Utah, and not the feds, would have at least some say in wolf management.

Part of the area covered in Rocky Mountain wolf District Population Segment includes a small corner of north-central Utah.

But here is where it gets a little complicated. If a marauding wolf comes into Utah and stays in that little corner of the state, it would be classified as "delisted." But if it moves outside the area, then it would still be considered a member of the endangered club.

Utah has had a wolf encounter. Back in 2002, state wildlife officials announced that a coyote trapper near Morgan had captured an endangered gray wolf that had strayed into the state from its pack in the Lamar Valley near Yellowstone, becoming the first confirmed wolf in the state in more than 50 years.

There have been other reported sightings, but none have been confirmed.

Utah wildlife officials have, in fact, been waiting for the delisting announcement in order to come up with a workable management plan.

Ranchers and wildlife groups want some control; environmental groups want wolves protected.

Back in the summer of 2005, the Utah Wildlife Board adopted a plan where ranchers would be allowed to kill wolves threatening their livestock, and ranchers would be compensated for livestock killed by wolves.

The plan was requested by lawmakers so Utah would have regulations in place when and if wolves were removed from the federal endangered list.

As far as Utah is now concerned, the wolf has and has not been delisted, since only a small corner of the state falls under District Population Segment. So there still remains the issue of what to do if wolves move into Utah and venture out of their little corner of the state.


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