Reports of wolf activity in Northern Utah increasing

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Reports of wolves in Utah are on the rise.According to state records, there have already been 15 sightings in 2010 and there are three months still left in the year. The 15 sightings ties the previous high, which was set in 2003.But state wildlife officials say the increase in reports does not mean wolves are necessarily making a new home in Utah.Kevin Bunnell, mammal program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said individual wolves frequently roam in to Utah from packs in Idaho and Wyoming.”We haven’t seen any evidence of breeding or of packs,” Bunnell told the Salt Lake Tribune for a story Saturday.The Tribune obtained the 2010 reports through an open-records request. The 2010 total is already six more than Utah had a year ago and more than twice as many as the seven reports in 2008.Bunnell said most of the confirmed sightings have been in counties that border Idaho and Wyoming.Five of the sightings were in Summit County and three came from Cache County. Morgan County also has had three sightings while Rich, Iron and Salt Lake counties have had one each.One of the Summit County confirmed reports was a fatal attack on a 100-pound dog that was guarding sheep near the Wyoming border in late July. Wildlife officers were able to confirm a wolf was involved by collecting fur from the scene.Two wolves were killed after attacking Utah livestock this summer. One was killed by government trappers in Rich County and the other by a Utah ranch hand who followed the wolf into Idaho. Bunnell said the wolf killed in Idaho may have actually been a wolf-dog hybrid. A genetic test is pending.Ranchers in Utah are permitted to shoot menacing wolves, but only in an area north of Interstate 80 and east of Interstate 84 to the Wyoming and Idaho lines.

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