This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Members of the Utah Legislature can be counted upon to deplore all forms of governmental micro-management. When it is something that the federal government does to Utah.
But when it is something that the Legislature goes out of its way to order a city, a county or a state agency to do, well, that's a bighorn sheep of a different color.
Thus has the Utah State Parks Board received its marching orders from an inappropriate addition to an appropriations bill passed by the Legislature. It, like a similar rider hung on the year before, directed the issuance of a handful of hunting licenses for bighorn sheep and mule deer on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.
The lawmakers commanded the issuance of two permits per year for bighorn sheep and another two for mule deer. One of each pair is to be auctioned off. The other is to be given away in a drawing. The 2011 and 2012 auctions raked in a total of $530,000. Of that, 90 percent goes back to the Antelope Island State Park for wildlife habitat improvements.
The argument in favor of the move, then, is strictly financial. It helps the state pay for its wildlife programs without reaching so deeply into the taxpayers' pockets. Which is not, in itself, a particularly bad idea.
What's troubling is that nobody who really has day-to-day responsibility for the health of the wildlife on Antelope Island has apparently been consulted about the Legislature's approach to the issue.
Allowing a limited number of hunting permits for a particular species at a particular location is generally the kind of thing that is done when the scientists whose job it is to watch such things have determined that there is a localized overpopulation problem somewhere. It happens when the particular answer to the particular problem would be moves to cull the herd, by hunting or other methods, before a particular herd starts to wither away from starvation.
If scientists of competent jurisdiction and expertise had recommended such action for the Antelope Island sheep and deer, that would be fine. But, in this case, the idea comes in the form of an order from the Legislature.
It's an order that state Rep. Curt Oda, normally a fan of hunting and gun use of all kinds, finds hard to stomach. Antelope Island is not a good place for such a hunt, he says, perhaps due to the number of two-legged animals who might wind up as collateral damage, and definitely due to Oda's stated dislike for the Legislature's methods.
Oda is right. This is improper micro-management.
The Legislature should back off.