Wildlife officials believe gray wolf is in Utah


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah has set up traps for a rare gray wolf that wildlife officials believe killed a calf in Rich County.

A trapper with the state first believed the predator was a coyote but determined it was gray wolf earlier this week after analyzing scat, tracks and other evidence, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The species has only been seen in Utah a handful of times since it was extirpated from the state in the 1920s.

Animal Industry Division director Leann Hunting has confirmed traps were set for the wolf, but it was not yet captured or killed as of Wednesday.

“Our protocols here are not unique to this predator,” she said. “It’s the way we would treat any predator. If there is a predator that is taking the livestock or wildlife of a certain area, then that predator would be dealt with by our predator technicians.”

If the wolf was elsewhere in Utah it would have been protected under the Endangered Species Act.

“Because the wolf was located in a part of the state where wolves have been delisted from the Endangered Species List, state law directs the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to prevent their re-establishment in this area and to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to remove them,” division spokesperson Faith Jolley said. “If found, this wolf will be euthanized because it has killed livestock.”

But not everyone agrees with killing the animal.

“Utah’s policy that the only good wolf is a dead wolf illustrates why these vulnerable animals still need the Endangered Species Act’s protection,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Fifteen to 20 individual wolves have been seen in the state in the past 15 years, wildlife officials said. Almost all have been in counties near Wyoming, Idaho or Colorado. There is no evidence of breeding activity within Utah.