The gray wolf fills a niche in nature's food chain.
In the past four years the Utah Legislature has spent $800,000 of taxpayer money to control the gray wolf population, despite the fact the last sighting of a gray wolf in Utah was 20 years ago ("Audit: Contracts for anti-wolf groups didn't safeguard tax dollars," Tribune, Oct. 15).
The Legislature authorized the Utah Department of Natural Resources to spend money for lobbying purposes.
Nobody knows for sure how the $300,000 last year was spent, but we do know that Ryan Benson, director for Big Game Forever, took $200,000 for his private consulting business. BGF insisted on up-front payment of all the money before they would do anything and co-mingled it with funds from outside sources. That's a no-no.
All of this raises two interesting questions: Should the state spend taxpayer money on lobbying? Where is the accountability of the Utah Department of Natural Resources? The DNR was lax in laying out the boundaries on how and where this money was spent, and the state auditors agree. I like the suggestion of Sen. Jim Dabakis, state Democratic chairman, that we should lobby to reintroduce the gray wolf in Utah to control the raccoon menace.
Bob Van Velkinburgh