Suddenly it's out in the open. Speakable in tones above a whisper . . . doors open, people listening, tape recorders on - no matter.
Wildlife . . . deer, elk, moose, bear, mountain bluebird, desert tortoise, Shiras moose . . . can be a common topic now when Bureau of Land Management meets Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, or when U.S. Forest Service meets BLM, or DWR talks with Capitol Hill, or they all meet and talk together.A common ground has been reached. It was ever-present during the two-day Utah Wildlife Symposium . . . talked about by everyone, agreed to by everyone, excitedly looked forward to by everyone.
The unanimous agreement that filtered out of the panels and speeches was that there is a benefit offered by this prized commodity that goes far beyond what is now recognized.
In a show of oneness, nearly 400 representatives from government groups and private organizations stood and applauded when the symposium's concluding speaker, Gov. Norm Bangerter, spoke of his open support towards wildlife.
They then set about making plans to fuel the fires set by this symposium. There was a sense of excitement and progress that obviously no one wanted to lose.
The intent of the symposium was to help develop cooperative wildlife and fish enhancement programs between various state, federal and private groups.
Such cooperation heretofore was lacking, if not in many cases totally missing. The USFS was for the trees, the BLM for sagebrush and sand, and the DWR for birds and bears. At times one turned a cold shoulder to another when topics like deer habitat, winter range and access rights were brought up, if for no other reason than lack of reason not to.
There is a new attention being given wildlife, now, not only on a local level, but worldwide. This symposium was a huge step forward for wildlife enhancement here in Utah.
Saturday's panel, for example, pointed this out. Stan Tixier, regional forester for the USFS; James Parker, Utah state director, BLM; Tim Provan, director Utah DWR; Robert Nelson, Utah Wildlife Leadership Coalition, Tom Bingham, Utah Farm Bureau; and Tom Christensen, Utah legislator, all talked about a partnership shared by groups/people and wildlife.
Parker admitted to a need for a stronger link with wildlife by his agency, and to a desire for new fish and wildlife programs, and to the fact that now, with the many challenges the BLM faces, including the current drought, "there is a need to work together to solve these problems" for the betterment of Utah's wildlife.
Provan talked about the need to "showcase" Utah's wildlife, "not only to the consumptive users (hunters), but for the non-consumptive (non-hunters)."
The No. 1 threat to wildlife, he told the the group, is "management by vote."
"We need balanced negotiations . . . an agreement by both sides it the best answer to a situation. The division welcomes this partnership (with other agencies). We couldn't be happier to have a major partner in wildlife programs."
Nelson agreed that there was an expanding interest in wildlife, "and the challenge we face as outdoor groups is to manage this growth."
Bingham told the group that landowner/sportsman problems centered around wildlife could best be resolved on a local level as partners . . . "And remember, partners work together for a common good."
He then listed 11 suggestions for better relations and included such issues as more predator control, a better balance between livestock and wildlife, improved trespassing laws to relieve "the greatest contention there is between the two groups."
For two days everything talked about dealt with wildlife, its role and why state/federal/private groups need to and plan to play a bigger role in enhancement programs in years to come.
The final act, for those in attendance, was the best. Gov. Bangerter, criticized for his silence on wildlife issues during his first four-year term, spoke out in support of wildlife early in this term.
He said he recognized that Utahns place a high value on wildlife, and that he does too. That he supports efforts to pass informed legislation to benefit wildlife; supports wildlife projects as long as all interests are considered; to fighting conflicts between various groups with cooperations; and to keeping all state lands opening so all people can enjoy all the wildlife Utah has to offer.
And the chief beneficiary of all this attention?
Wildlife . . . deer, elk, moose, bear, mountain bluebird, desert tortoise, Shiras moose, to name but a few.