Frog story hurt, not helped

  Dear HCN,

I feel compelled to respond to Todd Wilkinson's May 2 article, "Utah ushers its frogs toward oblivion," because it exemplifies one of the greatest problems facing contemporary conservation issues today: polarization. Wilkinson's article does not just present the arena of opposition but pushes the fighters further into their respective corners. This article promotes antagonism and polarization by presenting half-truths. Worse, sentiment created from such an article may undo fragile balances that have been achieved toward protecting and recovering our native amphibians and reptiles. Furthermore, it undermines the conservation efforts of numerous Utah native wildlife biologists across the state, including Dave Ross. Years of precious victories can be unravelled by several words of misconception or sensationalism.

This article was disheartening not so much in that it presented the obvious political complications facing wildlife conservation in Utah, but because it was an inaccurate, incomplete assessment coming from a well-respected conservation group we thought was an ally. That this article presents a situation that occurred three years ago, but was not accurately or comprehensively updated to reflect the current program supporting native amphibians, reptiles and fish in Utah, suggests irresponsible journalism. I will not sort the misleading inconsistencies from the many ugly truths stated because such an account would not begin to diminish the greatest damage from this article - not to the reader or the species at hand, but to the cause of conservation in Utah.

Although I understand the need to bring attention to such crucial conservation issues, especially within the unique and beloved ecosystems of Utah's deserts, I would only ask that in doing so, you act responsibly and understand the implications of your actions.

Yvette Converse

Salt Lake City, Utah

The writer is an aquatic ecologist for the state of Utah, but is writing as an individual.

The publisher responds.

High Country News is a newspaper, not a "conservation group." HCN is staffed by journalists, not by therapists.

If polarization were a concern, top state administrator Ted Stewart should not have gutted his Utah Division of Wildlife Resources of 50 scientists; he should not have gotten rid of law enforcement personnel working on endangered species violations; he should not have appointed an unqualified person to head the division; he should not have written to the governor's mom that he was holding back on fighting whirling disease to protect her son; and so on. Writer Todd Wilkinson did not polarize. With the help of several courageous present and former employees of the state he reported a story about a political and environmental atrocity.

Ed Marston