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Wed., July 10, 2013, 9:25 a.m.

Utah anti-wolf funding to be audited

A gray wolf is seen on the run near Blacktail Pond in Yellowstone National Park in Park County, Wyo. The Obama administration on Friday June 7, 2013, proposed lifting federal protections for gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 states, a move that would end four decades of recovery efforts.  (Yellowstone National Park)
A gray wolf is seen on the run near Blacktail Pond in Yellowstone National Park in Park County, Wyo. The Obama administration on Friday June 7, 2013, proposed lifting federal protections for gray wolves across most of the Lower 48 states, a move that would end four decades of recovery efforts. (Yellowstone National Park)

PREDATORS -- When you take sides on wolves, be wary of the slime that accumulates at both ends of a polarized issue.

Even conservative Utah lawmakers are finally taking a look at the questionable decision they made authorizing taxpayer money to be spent by a non-government group in an equally questionable ongoing effort to wrest control of wolf management from the federal government.

Big Game Forever, a Utah-based nonprofit that spun off Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in 2010, has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in state money during the past four years to evict the gray wolf from the endangered species list. But the group’s founders Don Peay and Ryan Benson have not disclosed where the money goes in their reports to the Legislature and to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Righteous groups that pretend to be the savior of wildlife and hunting are in the thick of this. Groups that seek to privatize wildlife and assume control over public lands should be scrutinized to the core. Our hunting future is at stake.

Meanwhile, Big Game Forever is poised to receive a second $300,000 state appropriation for fiscal year 2014. 

See the latest in this story by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Also:

Read a insightful commentary by veteran Tribune scribe and outdoors reporter Tom Wharton, who voices his concern about Don Peay, who founded Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife in 1993. The group has blossomed into a powerful multimillion-dollar operation with a presence in seven Western states and in national politics.  But Wharton expresses his concern that the organization has become increasingly more about making money for its officers, commercializing Utah’s wildlife and aligning itself with groups such as off-highway vehicle organizations and right-wing politicians intent on Utah taking over federal public lands.

"How these things help wildlife or the average hunter escapes me," Wharton says.

  • Just for fun, read this Cascadia Wildlands commentary for a notion of what a wolf advocacy group thinks of Don Peay, "the man who would be king."



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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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