|Ogden Valley News
|In Copyright (InC)
|SR Communications DBA, Eden, Utah
|Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
|Ogden Valley News
Volume II, Issue XVIII THE OGDEN VALLEY NEWS Page 3 September 15, 2000 Guest Commentary Non-hunters Are Losing Their Voice in State Wildlife Decisions By Dan Kent There’s a popular saying that democracy requires constant vigilance. This is particularly true in Utah where the odds are stacked in favor of the establishment. Nowhere is it truer than in the realm of wildlife “management.” I recently resigned my position on the Utah Wildlife Board Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) for the southeastern region after the RAC signed off on the Division of Wildlife Resource’s plan to “harvest” an estimated 438 mountain lions and allow the trapping of over 50,000 “furbearers,” including 2,090 bobcats, 5,602 red foxes and thousands of badgers, weasels, grey and kit foxes, coyotes, martens and other animals. Despite pleas to reduce the number of lion permits, and despite the fact that the state’s lion population does not meet a single one of the minimum performance standards established just last year by the Cougar Management Plan, I could not even get a second on a motion to discuss incorporating the reduced number of permits recommended on many units by the lion hunters themselves. In fact, RAC voted to increase hunting pressure above the DWR’s recommendations in the one area I specifically asked them to back off—the Dark Canyon Wilderness Study Area. They created a new “beef basin” subunit bordering Canyonlands National Park to target the broad-ranging population that inhabits the park and surrounding canyon country. Many people fear that after eight years of dramatically increased cougar killing, we are on the verge of a population crash. Some people couldn’t be happier with this news, and these people are well represented on the RAC. In fact, the creation of the RAC process about six years ago coincides with the stepped-up killing, which was approved based on claims of livestock loss and depressed deer herds. These arguments ignore the fact that no lions have been taken in the San Juan Unit in 11 years, and only four were taken in the La Sal, Henry and San Rafael units combined in the same period for livestock depredation. Deer herds across the state are increasing. The La Sals and Elk Ridge are exceptions to this trend, but many other factors contribute to low herd numbers there, including rapidly expanding elk herds, increased motorized impacts, highway deaths, drought, decadent habitat, heavy harassment from hounding and intense hunting pressure in the past. As usual, the RAC and vocal deer hunters in the audience, whose numbers are bolstered by a state requirement to attend for certain permit types, blame it all on the lion. To be fair, lions do kill deer. It is their principal food source. To hate them for eating deer is like hating cows for eating grass or hating plants for needing water. It is what they do. At least humans have a choice. And for much of our history, we have hated lions, wolves, buffalo and other animals for doing what they do—seeing only that they eat what could be ours (if we were greedy and selfish enough to demand it all, which we have been), and we have hunted them nearly to extinction. In the state of Utah, wildlife “belongs” to all the people, and these people have a right to have their interests represented. As the non-consumptive representative, I am supposed to voice an opinion that, it turns out, is a popular one: Most Utahns find the hunting of lions wrongful, particularly when done with hounds. Unfortunately, only a handful of non-hunters made it to this crucial, once-a-year meeting—barely enough to make the RAC blink. The RAC, being composed almost entirely of hunting, agriculture, ranching and federal agency interests, understandably voted for the increase in permits, 5 to 4. Next month the RAC will consider bringing back the spring bear hunt. Ending it in 1993 was the one unqualified success that non-consumptive users have had in the past ten years. You can be sure that Don Peay of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (motto: Sportsmen serving sportsmen) will be there to lobby for killing more bears in the spring and fall. If you care about Utah’s wildlife, get involved! The only realistic opportunity for this lies in the very fallible RAC process. If this process seems unpalatable, try something, anything: litigation, street theater, education, talking to DWR staff, electing better representatives. Like it or not, the fate of Utah’s wildlife is in our hands! Note: Dan Kent is a wildlife consultant and the director of Friends of the Abajos. He resides in Moab. See page 15 for another article on Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). Answers to the World’s Easiest Quiz on page 19: 1. 116 years, from 1337 to 1453. 2. Ecuador. 3. From sheep and horses. 4. November. TheRussian calendar was 13 days behind ours. 5. Squirrel fur. 6. The Latin name was Insularia Canaria - Island of the Dogs. 7. Albert. When he came to the throne in 1936 he respected the wish of Queen Victoria that no future king should ever be called Albert. 8. Distinctively crimson. 9. New Zealand. 10. Thirty years, of course, from 1618 to1648.