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Science, reason must manage Utah wildlife

Wildlife has a special place in Utah. It is enjoyed by all Utahns, as well as their families and friends, and provides wonderful opportunities for family outings and get-togethers. Utah's wildlife is enjoyed by everyone because thoughtful, deliberative science and professional management practices have been used the past 100 years to ensure that wildlife is here today and will be here tomorrow.

For these reasons, I am pleased to respond to the Feb. 9 Deseret News editorial in which editors oppose SJR10 and professional wildlife management. SJR10 is all about wildlife. It is not about taking away rights or freedoms. It is about perpetuation of wildlife for everyone. It is all about cementing a set of user-friendly rules so cool heads and science prevail in wildlife management decision-making.SJR10 removes decisions about what to do with Utah's wildlife from the hysterical arena found in the tone and direction of the editorial. It makes certain that everyone who chooses to can remain involved in wildlife decisions through Utah's excellent public participation process, the citizen-based regional wildlife advisory council's local hearing process and science and biology.

SJR10 clearly and explicitly declares that no special interest - be it land development, agriculture, hunting, animal rights, fishing, photography or whatever other cause - can use emotion and nonsense via the ballot box to determine what happens to everyone's song birds, deer, coyotes, elk, moose, eagles, sea gulls, cougar or buffalo. SJR10 makes sure the delicate balance of nature and animal-human interactions are always at the forefront of wildlife-management decisions. Perpetuation and preservation are the driving forces.

Sen. Blackham's proposal does not discriminate against a single person or class of people. It establishes a sound constitutional requirement applicable to all Utahns. Anyone and everyone who loves Utah's wildlife will support SJR10 because it ensures that educated, trained scientific experts manage our precious animal resources. It makes sure a minority of alarmists with a narrow view does not force its will upon a state of outdoor-loving families.

The Deseret News is correct in stating constitutional amendments should not be taken lightly. That is precisely why our pioneer fathers required a two-thirds majority vote by both the Utah Senate and the House of Representatives. These elected officials do not take lightly amending our constitution. But they also have the wisdom to see potential cracks in a foundation and take stock in letting the people decide how important wildlife is.

SJR10 does not prohibit a single Utahn from petitioning the government. The requirements to get an initiative on the Utah ballot remain untouched. SJR10 does not inhibit free speech. This precious tenet of Utah life brought by our forefathers is a right the coalition of groups supporting SJR10 will defend vigorously. SJR10 applies a standard equally to everyone. Read it. It's in large print.

What needs to happen is for editors of the Deseret News to take a moment, review SJR10 and the threats to Utah's wildlife the past year, assess the important role outdoor activities play in the lives of Utah families and then reconsider their position.

Yes, one strength of SJR10 is that all constitutional freedoms and rights are preserved and protected for our citizens. The Utahns For Wildlife Heritage and Conservation is a coalition of conservative common citizens joined together to make sure that we can enjoy what is good about Utah and our rights. The other overriding strength of SJR10 is it rightly keeps the professional wildlife managers in charge of wildlife decisions so we all can enjoy the birds, fish and animals for another 100 years.

When SJR10 reaches the voters, they will be able to act on their freedoms and express their rights. And, yes, citizens will be able to decide if the priceless gift of Utah's wildlife is important enough to deserve a higher standard of preservation to ensure science and biology is the guiding hand and not emotion or hysteria.