SALT LAKE CITY -- Wolves are causing millions of dollars of damage to livestock, wildlife herds and pets throughout the West, says one local lawmaker.
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, is sponsoring Senate Concurrent Resolution 15, which asks the federal government to remove wolves from the Endangered Species Act list.
The Senate approved the resolution, 26-1, Wednesday. It now goes before the House for further consideration.
If the resolution is approved by the House and signed into law, copies will be sent to the other 49 states and to federal officials.
Christensen said wildlife agencies in 32 other states have also asked that wolves be removed from protection under the Endangered Species Act.
"It was legal for (Division of Wildlife Resources) to manage wolves six months ago," Christensen said after the vote.
But since then, a federal judge has ruled that wolves are protected. Montana and Idaho held public hunts in 2010, as did the northeast corner of Utah.
Wolves were introduced in the mid-1990s into Yellowstone National Park with the understanding that, once the number reached 300 and there were 30 packs, officials could began managing them.
But now there are 1,600 wolves in the Western states, Christensen said.
"They are growing exponentially with no end in sight," Christensen said. "It is having a tremendous impact to the economy and the jobs in the rural areas."
Christensen said if he believed all the reports that he has received about wolves, "we have hundreds here."
Christensen said wolves can weigh as much as 125 pounds and have been known to kill for sport.
"These are not little animals," he said.
Mark Hadley, spokesman with the Division of Wildlife Resources, said as far as the division is aware there are no wolves in Utah.
One wolf, that was killing some livestock, was trapped in Northern Utah in 2010, Hadley said.
Christensen said the federal government has set aside $25 million to monitor the wolves and another $40 million to study whether wolves should be removed from the endangered species list.
According to the resolution, "wolf populations currently exceed by more than 600 percent of the recovery goals agreed upon by all parties, yet extremist groups and courts block management as all parties had previously agreed upon."
Sen. Gene Davis, D-Salt Lake City, took exception to the word "extremist," which is in the resolution.
Davis said he found it offensive that others may have a different point of view who would be labeled as "extremists" in the resolution.
Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said he used to go on hunting trips at Jackson Hole, Wyo. Elk, numbering around 15,000, would be in the area, while another 15,000 to 20,000 migrated to Montana.
"The hunt doesn't exist today because of the wolves," Jenkins said. "They have brought the herd to extinction."
Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, called wolves killing machines. "That's all it does. We've let this thing get totally out of control."