20 May 2010, 1:08pm
Predators Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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Criminal Activities by Federal Bureaucrats and Others Involved in the Introduction, Protection and Spread of Wolves in the Lower 48 States

Beers, Jim. 2010. Criminal Activities by Federal Bureaucrats and Others Involved in the Introduction, Protection and Spread of Wolves in the Lower 48 States. Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, Bozeman, MT 16 May 2010.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:


The period 1967 to 1999 saw the passage of 3 Endangered Species Acts and a tightening of federal authority over a host of plants and animals formerly under the jurisdiction of state governments. Mr. Beers was employed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in many capacities and locations during this period. He explains the growth of federal power, the shift in the sort of employees and agendas responsible for the federal growth, and the resulting subversion of state fish and wildlife agencies and any respect for law by increasingly powerful bureaucrats. The introduction, protection, and spread of wolves by federal decrees during this period are detailed and major violations that occurred are explained. The violations include the theft of $60+ of excise tax money by federal bureaucrats from state fish and wildlife programs to introduce wolves, Non-governmental organization entanglements with federal bureaucrats and federal funds, quid pro quo arrangements with state bureaucrats, failure to audit state fish and wildlife programs in order to maintain state compliance with illegal federal actions, failure of federal bureaucrats to describe and forecast the impacts and costs of introduced wolves, and the cover-up of millions of dollars of state misuse of federally-collected excise taxes.


The following two-hour verbal presentation is divided into three parts. This is so that the listener or reader understands three things.

First is the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) time of employment of the author and his competency concerning this subject. This is important for you to appreciate the competency of the author to speak about federal environmental/animal rights policies, federal bureaucracies and their operation, the changing nature of federal and state fish and wildlife programs, and the impacts that these changes are continuing to have on our American society.

Second are the political, scientific, and legal changes of the past 40 years and how their cumulative impacts have led to the corruption and disregard for both US law and the US Constitution described in the third part.

Third is a description of law violations by both those immediately involved in the introduction, protection, and spread of wolves in the Upper Great Lake States, the Carolinas, the SW States, the Upper and Central Rocky Mountain States and the resulting and ever-widening range of associated bureaucrats’, agencies’, and associated “partners’” activities continuing in disregard of federal laws.

Descriptions and explanations of the growing danger of wolf attacks; the purposeful lack of information about wolves as carriers of diseases that infect and kill humans, livestock, and wildlife; the annihilation of big game animals, big game hunting, and hunting revenues to state wildlife agencies; the widespread destruction of pets and working dogs; and the ruination of the tranquility of rural life where wolves exist are topics that are being addressed in detail elsewhere.

This presentation is intended to describe criminal activities by federal and state bureaucrats, lobbyists, and radical organizations associated with the establishment, protection and spread of wolves in the Lower 48 states. It is my belief that understanding this aspect of the wolf issue will enable all of us to better understand and work more effectively to solve the myriad problems that government bureaucrats, activist organizations, and politicians have caused by illegal actions disguised as wolf introduction and protection.

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2 Apr 2010, 4:06pm
Predators Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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Idaho Wildlife Services Wolf Activity Report 2009

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Wildlife Services


Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:


This report summarizes Idaho Wildlife Services’ (WS) responses to reported gray wolf depredations and other wolf-related activities conducted during Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 (October 1, 2008 – September 30, 2009) pursuant to Permit No. TE-081376-12, issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) June 16, 2006. This permit allows WS to implement control actions for wolves suspected to be involved in livestock depredations and to capture non-depredating wolves for collaring and re-collaring with radio transmitters as part of ongoing wolf monitoring and management efforts. …


Brief summaries that pertain to those investigations which resulted in a finding of confirmed or probable wolf damage are available on request from the ID WS State Office.
Investigations Summary: WS conducted 226 depredation investigations related to wolf complaints in FY 2009 (as compared to 186 in 2008, an increase of almost 22%). Of those 226 investigations, 160 (~71%) involved confirmed depredations, 43 (~19%) involved probable depredations, 16 (~7%) were possible/unknown wolf depredations and 7 (~3%) of the complaints were due to causes other than wolves.

Based on Idaho WS investigations, the minimum number of confirmed and probable livestock depredations due to wolves in FY 2009 was:

76 calves (killed), 7 calves (injured)
14 cows (killed)
344 sheep (killed), 20 sheep (injured)
16 dogs (killed), 8 dogs (injured)
1 foal (killed), 1 goat (killed)

26 calves (killed), 3 calves (injured)
1 cow (killed)
156 sheep (killed)
4 dogs (killed), 2 dogs (injured)
1 goat (killed)

The number of both cattle and sheep killed and injured by wolves in FY 2009 was the highest ever recorded. The number of cattle killed and injured was only slightly higher than in FY 2008, but there was a dramatic increase in the number of sheep killed and injured, as compared to FY 2008 (Figure 2). Although there were more incidents of wolf predation on cattle than on sheep (Figure 3), the tendency for wolves to kill multiple sheep per incident contributed to the greater numbers of sheep killed. Wolf depredations on cattle and calves more often involve attacks on just a single animal per incident.

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Wolf Predation: More Bad News

Charles E. Kay. 2008. Wolf Predation: More Bad News. Muley Crazy, Sept/Oct 2008 (posted with permission of the author).

Full text:

As I explained in an earlier article, pro-wolf advocates are now demanding 6,000 or more wolves as one interbreeding population in every western state. Pro-wolf advocates also claim that predation, in general, and wolves in particular have no impact on prey populations. Recent research by Dr. Tom Bergerud and his colleagues, however, paints an entirely different picture and serves as a poignant example of what will happen to the West’s mule deer if pro-wolf advocates have their way.

Woodland and mountain caribou have been declining throughout North America since European settlement. Many attribute the decline to the fact that caribou must feed on aboral or terrestrial lichens during winter, a food that is being destroyed by logging, forest fires, and other human activities; i.e., modern landuse practices are to blame. While others attribute the decline to predation by wolves and other carnivores. To separate between these competing hypotheses, Dr. Tom Bergerud and his co-workers designed a series of simple but elegant experiments and have now accumulated 30 years of data.

In the northern most arc of Lake Superior lie a cluster of seven major islands plus smaller islets. The Slate Islands are five miles from the mainland at their nearest point and only twice during the last 30 years has winter ice bridged that gap. Terrestrial lichens are absent, plus the islands have been both logged and burned, making them unfit for caribou according to most biologists. The Slate Islands lack wolves, black bears, whitetailed deer, and moose, but caribou are indigenous. As a companion study, Bergerud and his associates chose Pukaskwa National Park, which stretches for 50 miles along the north shore of Lake Superior. In contrast to the Slate Islands, Pukaskwa has an abundance of lichens, which are supposed to be a critical winter food for caribou, but unlike the Slate Islands, Pukaskwa is home to wolves, bears, moose, and whitetails. Woodland caribou are also present.

So we have islands that are poor caribou habitat, but which have no predators, versus a nearby national park that is excellent caribou habitat but which contains wolves. Now according to what many biologists and pro-wolf advocates would have you believe, habitat is the all important factor in maintaining healthy ungulate populations, while predation can largely be ignored. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Habitat it turns out, is irrelevant and ecologists have been, at best, braindead for years.

Despite the supposedly “poor” habitat in the Slate Islands, Bergerud and his research team recorded the highest densities of caribou ever found anywhere in North America. Moreover, those high densities have persisted since at least 1949 when the herd was first censused. More importantly, the density of caribou in the “poor” habitat, but predator-free, Slate Islands was 100 times that in Pukaskwa National Park where predators hold sway. 100 times or 10,000% more caribou per unit area. A significant difference by any objective standard.

Then during the winter of 1993-94, a natural experiment occurred when Lake Superior froze and two wolves crossed to the Slate Islands. Within days, the two wolves proceeded to cut through the Slate Island caribou like a hot knife through butter. Because caribou, like mule deer, are exceedingly susceptible to wolf predation. Only when the two wolves disappeared did caribou numbers recover.

A second set of manipulated experiments was conducted when Bergerud and his associates transplanted Slate Island caribou to adjoining areas with and without wolves. A release to Bowman Island, where wolves and moose were present, failed due to predation. A second release to Montreal Island doubled in numbers until Lake Superior froze and wolves reached that island. A third release was to Michipicoten Island where wolves were absent but so too were lichens. Despite the “poor” habitat, those caribou increased at an average annual rate of 18% for nearly 20 years. A fourth release to Lake Superior Provincial Park on the mainland failed due to wolf predation. Thus, the data are both conclusive and overwhelming. Habitat is largely irrelevant because caribou numbers are limited by wolf predation. Bergerud goes so far as to say that managers have wasted the last 50 years measuring lichens! Remove the wolves and you have 100 times more caribou, even on supposedly “poor” ranges.

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15 Jan 2010, 10:20am
Homo sapiens Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Policy
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Two Views of the Serengeti: One True, One Myth

Charles E. Kay. 2009. Two Views of the Serengeti: One True, One Myth. Conservation and Society 7(2): 145-147, 2009

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

A book review of:

Sinclair, A.R.E., C. Packer, S.A.R. Mduma and J.M. Fryxell (eds.). Serengeti III: Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2008. x+522 pp. (Hardcover). ISBN 978- 0- 226-760339. (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-226-76034-6. and

Shetler, J.B. Imagining Serengeti: A History of Landscape Memory in Tanzania from Earliest Times to the Present. Athens: Ohio University Press. 2007. xiii+378 pp. (Hardcover). ISBN 978-0-8214-1749-2. (Paperback). ISBN 978-0-8214-1750-8.


Serengeti III is the third book that has come to print on the ecological studies conducted in the Serengeti ecosystem. The first book appeared in 1979, while the second was published in 1995.[1][2] The first two books of the series dealt primarily with wildlife issues and if indigenous people were mentioned at all, it was in the pejorative as ‘poachers.’ As this new volume is subtitled Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics, I was expecting a more balanced presentation of human-wildlife conflicts, but that turned out not to be the case.

Serengeti III contains 16 chapters by 57 authors, forty-one of whom are from Western Europe or North America, primarily the United States. Of the 16 authors that list a Tanzania or Kenya address, a large number are either from the West or have been trained in the West. Of the 16 senior authors, 15 are from the U.S., Canada, or Western Europe, while the one with a Kenya address was born in the United States and educated in Britain. In addition, the authors fail to acknowledge, or even mention, many of the major works that historians, social scientists and others have published on wildlife-human issues in Africa. … Needless to say, this biases the analyses and conclusions presented in Serengeti III.

The message of Serengeti III can be summarized in a few sentences. According to the authors, “The Serengeti is one of the premier natural ecosystems in the world” (p. 301), and “The Serengeti is a large, mostly pristine ecosystem [and] as such is one of the most positive examples of conservation in the world, and is a treasure for the entire planet” (p. 434). That is to say, the book’s fundamental premise is that the Serengeti is a wilderness without a human history of any importance. However, according to the authors, this idyllic state of nature is threatened by the indigenous people surrounding the park, who as the authors admit are some of the poorest people on Earth and who receive few benefits from western preservation. “The main conclusion is that unless human population increase in areas surrounding protected areas is stopped, or even reversed, the future of conservation in both the community areas and the protected areas will be seriously compromised” (p. 484). Judging by the general tone of Serengeti III, one wonders what ultimate solution the authors have in mind? Or is this simply a call to expropriate additional indigenous lands to create even larger buffer zones around the park? …

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11 Aug 2009, 11:17am
Deer, Elk, Bison Predators Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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The Complexities of State Management of Wildlife Under Federal Laws

Budge, Randy*. 2009. The Complexities of State Management of Wildlife Under Federal Laws. Conference of Western Attorneys General, Aug 3-5,2009, Sun Valley, Idaho.

*Randy Budge is an attorney and an Idaho Fish and Game Commissioner. This paper represents his personal views and options, not necessarily that of the entire Idaho Fish and Game Commission or the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Full text [here] (4.5 MB)

Selected excerpts:


By far the greatest conservationist of our times was President Theodore Roosevelt, who was driven by a passion to protect wildlife for future generations:

“Wild beasts and birds are by right not the property of the people who are alive today, but the property of the unknown generations whose belongings we have not right to squander.”

In an incredible feat to restore dwindling wildlife and protect wild lands in the early 1900s, Roosevelt was instrumental in bringing under federal protection 230 million acres in the form of 150 national forests, 50 national wildlife refuges, 5 national parks and 18 national monuments. This amounted to an incredible 84,000 acres for each day he was in office. …

A tension has always existed between the rights of the states to manage the wildlife within their borders and the right of the federal government to restrict the taking of wildlife or to otherwise manage wildlife in the national interest. The history of federal and state wildlife legislation exhibits an intricate dance over jurisdiction and the right to manage wildlife.

State wildlife laws are based on the principle states own the wildlife within their borders to be held “in trust” for their citizens. Accordingly, the states have primarily shouldered the responsibility to manage wildlife, and have a proven track record of success. In my opinion, the states are far better suited to manage wildlife within their borders than the lumbering and detached federal bureaucracy because the states are better able to monitor and respond to wildlife needs and threats, and to establish cooperation with landowners and other agencies while recognizing the social values of the residents that regularly interact with wildlife.

Federal wildlife laws generally preempt state laws only when necessary to manage or conserve wildlife species that occupy multiple states. Preemption of state law is an area of considerable complexity to be addressed by a later speaker, so further discussion here is omitted. It should be noted, however, that state laws often expressly include or complement Federal laws such as the Endangered Species Act, whose list of endangered species is usually adopted in full by states in their own legislation of endangered and threatened species. …

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20 Jun 2009, 9:27am
Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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The Threat of the Yrmo: The Political Ontology of a Sustainable Hunting Program

Mario Blaser. 2009. The Threat of the Yrmo: The Political Ontology of a Sustainable Hunting Program. American Anthropologist, Vol. 111, Issue 1, pp. 10–20.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:


Various misunderstandings and conflicts associated with attempts to integrate Indigenous Knowledges (IK) into development and conservation agendas have been analyzed from both political economy and political ecology frameworks. With their own particular inflections, and in addition to their focus on issues of power, both frameworks tend to see what occurs in these settings as involving different epistemologies, meaning that misunderstandings and conflicts occur between different and complexly interested perspectives on, or ways of knowing, the world. Analyzing the conflicts surrounding the creation of a hunting program that enrolled the participation of the Yshiro people of Paraguay, in this article I develop a different kind of analysis, one inspired by an emerging framework that I tentatively call “political ontology.” I argue that, from this perspective, these kinds of conflicts emerge as being about the continuous enactment, stabilization, and protection of different and asymmetrically connected ontologies. [Keywords: political ontology, multinaturalism, multiculturalism, Paraguay, Indigenous peoples]


In 1999, after four years of a strictly observed ban on commercial hunting, news reached the Yshiro Indigenous communities of Northern Paraguay that the activity would be allowed again under the supervision of the National Parks Direction. Through their recently created federation, Uni´on de las Comunidades Ind´igenas de la Naci´on Yshir, the Yshiro leaders inquired from the Parks Direction about permits to hunt capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), yacare (caiman sp.), and anaconda (Eunectes notaeus).

They were notified that, although the institution was willing to allow commercial hunting, it actually could not issue the permits as it lacked the necessary resources to send inspectors to supervise the activity. Following the advice from the National Parks Direction, the Yshiro leaders sought support from Prodechaco, an EU–funded sustainable development project that targeted Indigenous peoples. The directors of the Prodechaco agreed to support the Yshiro federation’s bid for hunting permits with the condition that hunting had to be done in a sustainable manner. To make the concept clear, one of them explained in plain words: “The animal population has to be kept constant over the years. You hunt but making sure that there will always be enough animals for tomorrow” (conversation witnessed by author, November 1999).

Espousing a “participatory approach,” Prodechaco framed the relation with the Yshiro federation as a partnership to which the latter would contribute “traditional” forms of natural resource use.

Thus, having agreed on the goal of making hunting sustainable, the Yshiro federation and Prodechaco divided tasks: The federation would promote a series of discussion in their communities to make the goal of sustainability clear and to organize operations accordingly; Prodechaco, in turn, would arrange with the National Parks Direction the technical and legal aspect of the hunting season, which from then on began to be described as a sustainable hunting program. In the ensuing months, each party contributed their specific visions and demands into the making of the program and by the time it was launched it seemed that everybody was operating according to a common set of understandings about what the program entailed.

However, two months after the program’s beginning, Prodechaco and the inspectors sent by the National Parks Direction began asserting that Yshiro and nonindigenous hunters were actively disregarding the agreed-on regulations, thereby turning the program into “depredation” and “devastation” as they entered into private properties and Brazilian territory (Gonzales Vera 2000a). As I show later in the article, this turn of events revealed that the hunting program had been based on a misunderstanding about how to achieve the sustainability of the animal population, albeit a particular kind of misunderstanding. …

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Caribou Numbers in the NWT — The Outfitter’s Battle

John Andre. 2007. Caribou Numbers in the NWT — The Outfitter’s Battle (PowerPoint presentation). Shoshone Wilderness Adventures, Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories, CA.

John Andre is majority stockholder in two Canadian corporations, Qaivvik, Ltd. and Caribou Pass Outfitters, Ltd.

Full PowerPoint presentation [here] (2.44MB)

Selected excerpts:

The caribou have been hunted for tens of thousands of years by the aboriginal peoples of the north. The health of the caribou herds is sacred to them, it is part of their very being. Generation after generation followed the caribou, or waited for them to come. They understood the movements of the great herds, and the cycle of feast and famine. Now, with “modern” technology, we track caribou with satellite collars, count nematodes in their droppings, and census them using fancy terms such as linear regression analysis and coefficient of variation. It is not an easy job, counting over a million animals, scattered over tens of thousands of square miles of wilderness. This presentation is not meant to degrade, in any way, the efforts of some of the wildlife biologists that have worked hard over the last 60 years, risking their lives in an unforgiving environment, with limited budgets and manpower, to study and better understand the caribou.

The Problems Begin

In late 2005, the government split the former RWED into ENR (Environment & Natural Resources) and ITI (Industry, Tourism, and Investment.) It may or may not be a coincidence, but this is when problems with the government began.

In May of 2006, we were abruptly told that we had to stop selling caribou hunts for that year; that the caribou numbers had dropped significantly. This cost the industry three months of sales, and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The question is, if the next survey hadn’t been done yet, how did the government know for sure the herds were down? Was the outcome preconceived?

In June of 2006, the Bathurst herd was surveyed, and was down to 128,000 caribou. Minister Miltenberger, of the ENR , told the outfitting industry that they were cutting our tag quotas back to the pre-2000 level of 132 tags, for the 2007 season. At the same time, resident hunters were reduced from 5 tags to 2 tags, and bulls only. (The harvest of mature bulls has consistently been shown to have zero effect on overall ungulate population growth.) The outfitting industry, although not necessarily agreeing with their numbers or science, wanted to do their part to help the caribou, and so we accepted this slashing of our industry by nearly 30%.

The fact is, we hadn’t looked at the numbers carefully enough.

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Variation In Mitochondrial DNA and Microsatellite DNA in Caribou (Rangifer Tarandus) in North America

Matthew A. Cronin, Michael D. Macneil, and John C. Patton. 2005. Variation In Mitochondrial DNA and Microsatellite DNA in Caribou (Rangifer Tarandus) in North America. Journal of Mammalogy, 86(3):495–505, 2005.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:


Genetic variation of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) at 18 microsatellite DNA loci and the cytochrome-b gene of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) was quantified in 11 herds of 3 North American subspecies: Alaskan barren ground caribou (R. t. granti), Canadian barren ground caribou (R. t. groenlandicus), and woodland caribou (R. t. caribou). Phylogenetic analysis of 1,194 nucleotides of cytochrome-b sequence resulted in a clade of 52 genotypes in R. t. granti, R. t. groenlandicus, and in 1 herd of R. t. caribou, and a clade of 7 genotypes in R. t. caribou. mtDNA sequence divergence is approximately 1% between these clades and 0.3–0.6% within these clades. The subspecies do not have monophyletic mtDNA, but do have different frequencies of mtDNA genotypes. Microsatellite allele frequencies also are differentiated between the woodland (R. t. caribou) and barren ground (R. t. granti and R. t. groenlandicus) subspecies. An exception is the George River herd in Labrador, which is classified as R. t. caribou but has mtDNA and microsatellite allele frequencies intermediate between the other herds of R. t. caribou and R. t. groenlandicus. Within subspecies, there is relatively low differentiation of microsatellite allele frequencies and mtDNA genotypes among herds of R. t. granti and R. t. groenlandicus, and relatively high differentiation of microsatellite alleles and mtDNA genotypes among herds of R. t. caribou in 4 geographically separate areas in Canada. The extent of differentiation of mtDNA genotype frequencies and microsatellite allele frequencies within and among each subspecies reflects past and present gene flow among herds. Issues related to subspecies, populations, ecotypes, and herds are discussed.
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26 Dec 2008, 5:25pm
Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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A Proposal to Eliminate Redundant Terminology for Intra-Species Groups

M. A. Cronin. 2006. A Proposal to Eliminate Redundant Terminology for Intra-Species Groups. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34(1):237–241; 2006

Dr. Matthew Cronin PhD. is Research Associate Professor of Animal Genetics, School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is also a member of the Alaska Board of Forestry.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:


Many new terms have come into use for intra-species groups of animals defined with genetic criteria including subspecies, evolutionarily significant units, evolutionary units, management units, metapopulations, distinct population segments, populations, and subpopulations. These terms have redundant meanings and can lead to confusion for biologists, managers, and policy makers. I propose that for wildlife management we can simplify intra-species terminology and use only the terms subspecies, populations, and subpopulations. These 3 terms have roots in evolutionary and population biology and can incorporate genetic, demographic, and geographic considerations.

Recently, there has been a proliferation of terms used to describe groups of animals below the species level. For example, Wells and Richmond (1995) identified more than 30 terms used to describe groups generally referring to populations. They also discussed the problems with scientific communication associated with such extensive and redundant terminology.

The importance of intraspecies definitions is exemplified by the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA). The ESA allows listing of species, but it also allows listing of subspecies and distinct population segments (DPS) without clear definition of these terms. The importance of these intra-specific categories is evident in the large number of subspecies and DPS listed under the ESA. For example, more than 70% (57 of 81 listed taxa) of the listed mammals in the United States are identified as subspecies or DPS (http://endangered.fws.gov/wildlife.html). Examples of subspecies listed under the ESA with questionable subspecies status include the California gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica, Cronin 1997, Zink et al. 2000) and Preble’s meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei, Ramey et al. 2005). Other examples of indefinite subspecies designations that affect management and policy are given by Cronin (1993) and Zink (2004).

The importance of clear definition of DPS has been recognized by the agencies administering the ESA (i.e., The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service). These agencies noted: “Federal agencies charged with carrying out the provisions of the ESA have struggled for over a decade to develop a consistent approach for interpreting the term ‘distinct population segment’” (Waples 1991:v); and “…it is important that the term ‘distinct population segment’ beinterpreted in a clear and consistent fashion.” (Federal Register 7 Feb. 1996, Vol 61:4722). The National Research Council (NRC 1995:55) recognized the importance of identification of intraspecific units for ESA consideration and stated: “Unless we agree to preserve all endangered or threatened organisms of all taxonomic ranks, we must find ways to identify those groups of organisms we consider to be significant.

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26 Dec 2008, 3:38pm
Wildlife Policy
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The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse: subjective subspecies, advocacy and management

M. A. Cronin. 2007. The Preble’s meadow jumping mouse: subjective subspecies, advocacy and management. Correspondence, Animal Conservation 10 (2007) 159–161

Dr. Matthew Cronin, PhD. is Research Associate Professor of Animal Genetics, School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is also a member of the Alaska Board of Forestry.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

I read with concern the letters to the editor regarding the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse Zapus hudsonius preblei in which Martin (2006) criticized Ramey et al. (2005) for questioning the subspecies designation and the editor for a failed peer review, and Crandall (2006) defended his editorship.

However, the debate over the subspecies status of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse does not properly acknowledge the subjectivity of the subspecies category. Designation of subspecies status is inherently subjective and this should be openly admitted by both sides of the debate. Accusations of advocacy in this issue are spurious because applied fields such as wildlife conservation or agriculture have inherent advocacy for management objectives. As discussed below, I suggest management units of intraspecific groups should be based on geography, not subjective judgements of subspecies status or genetic differentiation.

The subspecies status of this mouse has been discussed extensively (Ramey et al., 2005, 2006; Crandall, 2006; Martin, 2006; Vignieri et al., 2006) because it has been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Briefly, the Preble’s mouse was designated a subspecies with limited descriptive morphological data. There are no diagnostic characters that unequivocally distinguish it from conspecifics. It does not have monophyletic mitochondrial DNA. It may be geographically isolated from, and have different allele frequencies than, con-specific populations. Sample sizes and locations studied are probably small relative to population numbers. The allele frequency differences are for DNA loci that are usually considered selectively neutral. There are no data documenting local adaptation, but it is possible. Given the lack of quantitative criteria for naming subspecies the Preble’s mouse could be considered a legitimate subspecies, or not a legitimate subspecies. My concerns center on the lack of appreciation of the subjectivity of subspecies and on misunderstanding of the nature of advocacy and management in the context of the Preble’s mouse.

It is well established that the subspecies category is subjective (reviewed by Cronin, 1993, 2006; Geist, O’Gara & Hoffmann, 2000; Zink, 2004). This includes other cases involving the ESA (e.g. Cronin, 1997; Zink et al., 2000) and recognition of this could have avoided much of the debate over the Preble’s mouse. …

The subjectivity of subspecies designation is exemplified by the Preble’s mouse. Ramey et al. (2005) used a hypothesis testing approach for genetic, ecological and morphological data and concluded that the subspecies designation was not warranted. Vignieri et al. (2006) presented criteria (no or significantly reduced gene flow), acknowledged subspecies are not well defined, and then concluded the Preble’s mouse is a legitimate subspecies. The ensuing critiques (Crandall, 2006; Martin, 2006; Ramey et al., 2006; Vignieri et al., 2006) demonstrate neither was an absolute result. It is important to recognize that other intra-specific groups that can be listed under the ESA, distinct population segments-DPS and evolutionarily significant units- ESU, are also subjectively defined (Cronin, 2006).

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The Truth about Our Wildlife Managers’ Plan to Restore “Native” Ecosystems

George Dovel. 2008. The Truth about Our Wildlife Managers’ Plan to Restore “Native” Ecosystems. The Outdoorsman, Number 30, Aug-Sept 2008.

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:

In 1935 when Cambridge University botanist Arthur Tansley invented the term “ecosystem” in a paper he authored, he was attempting to define the system that is formed from the relationship between each unique environment and all the living organisms it contains.

Ecologists concluded that these individual systems evolved naturally to produce an optimum balance of plants, herbivores that ate the plants, and carnivores that ate the herbivores. Many accepted this “food chain” theory as a permanent state of natural regulation and a theory was advanced that certain “key” species of plants and animals were largely responsible for maintaining these “healthy” ecosystems.

But subsequent archeological excavations or core samples of the buried layers of periods in time revealed that these “perfected” ecosystems were actually in a continuing state of change which could be caused by changes in weather, climate or various organisms. They concluded that parasites or other organisms that were not included in their food chain charts often caused radical population changes in one or more of the keystone species.

The “Balance-of-Nature” Myth Keeps Surfacing

In 1930 noted Wild Animal Ecologist Charles Elton wrote, “The ‘balance of nature’ does not exist and perhaps never has existed. The numbers of wild animals are constantly varying to a greater or less extent, and the variations are usually irregular in period and always irregular in amplitude (being ample).” Yet 33 years later, in a highly publicized Feb. 1963 National Geographic article, titled, “Wolves vs. Moose on Isle Royale,” fledgling Wolf Biologist David Mech and his mentor, Durward Allen, claimed just the opposite. …

Debunking the “Balance-of-Nature” Myth

The extreme “spikes” (highs and lows) in numbers of keystone species resulting from reliance on the theory that “natural regulation” will produce a “balance” are evidence that the so-called “Balance of Nature” is a pipe dream. One fairly long-term example of this is seen in the following graph recording 50 years of wolf and moose populations on Isle Royale National Park in Michigan.

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21 Oct 2008, 3:39pm
Population Dynamics Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Management Wildlife Policy
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Yellowstone’s Destabilized Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict

Frederick H. Wagner. 2006. Yellowstone’s Destabilized Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.

Review by Cliff White, Parks Canada, Banff, Alberta, Ca. [first published in Mountain Research and Development Vol 28 No 2 May 2008]

In an influential book of the 1960s, Fire and Water: Scientific Heresy in the Forest Service, Ashley Schiff (1962) documented how, for over 3 decades, the United States Forest Service subverted ecological science to justify an agency policy of total fire suppression. This policy was especially flawed in southeastern pine forests that evolved under a regime of periodic burning. Schiff’s exposé showed how, in a technologically-based society, science could be systematically manipulated to become clever advocacy for a political end. The book became a must read for a generation of ecological researchers and natural resource policy specialists.

Fred Wagner, formerly associate dean of the Natural Resources department at Utah State University, continues this tradition of exceptional scholarship to describe policy-driven research in Yellowstone, the United States’ flagship national park. Ironically, the general political and ecological scenario is in many respects similar to the southeastern pine forest debacle—management actions driven by a strong political constituency were imposed on an ecosystem ill-adapted to them, and scientists were unwilling or unable to evaluate and document obviously negative outcomes. In Schiff’s example, the fire suppression program was rooted in a strong American land management and resource husbandry movement of the early 1900s. In Wagner’s work, Yellowstone’s management and scientific research is motivated by equally powerful, but opposite societal forces supporting wilderness or “natural regulation.”

For those unfamiliar with the Yellowstone situation, removal of native peoples from the park in the 1800s and reduction in large carnivores in the early 1900s provided favorable conditions for the population of elk (Cervus elaphus), a generalist herbivore, to increase dramatically. After government biologists observed the effects of high densities of elk on soil and vegetation in the 1920s, park rangers routinely culled the herd for over 4 decades. In the 1960s, recreational game hunters lobbied to take over the cull. Given the potential political incompatibility of sport hunting with conservation in one of the world’s premier national parks, the federal government made the decision to cease elk culling. Park managers and senior scientists then carefully selected a generation of researchers to evaluate the revised policy. The result was a new paradigm of “natural regulation” that was underlain by 4 key hypotheses:

1) long-term human hunting, gathering and burning had not substantially influenced the ecosystems of North America’s Rocky Mountains;

2) ungulate populations in Yellowstone were, over the long term, generally high;

3) carnivore predation was a “non-essential adjunct” having minimal influence on elk numbers; and

4) high elk numbers would not cause major changes in plant communities, ungulate guilds, and other long-term ecosystem states and processes.

Although the natural regulation paradigm seems rather farfetched today, remember that it was born in the 1960s, a time of antiestablishment flower children, when wilderness was untrammeled by Native Americans, when biologist and author Farley Mowat’s wolves subsisted on mice (Mowat 1963), and the only “good fires” were caused by lightning. Moreover, an excellent argument can be made that ecological science needs large “control ecosystems” with minimal
human influences.

In the 40 or so years since the implementation of the national regulation policy, both the National Park Service and outside institutions conducted many ecological studies. These culminated in 1997 with a congressionally mandated review by the National Research Council. It is this wealth of research and documentation that Fred Wagner uses to evaluate changes over time in the Yellowstone ecosystem. He provides meticulous summaries of research in chapters on each of several different vegetation communities, the ungulate guild, riparian systems, soil erosion dynamics, bioenergetics, biogeochemistry and syntheses for the “weight of evidence” on the primary drivers of ecological change. This background allows readers to develop their own understanding on the results of this textbook case of applied ecological science.

Wagner clearly shows that most studies did not support the hypotheses of natural regulation. In cases where studies did seem to support a hypothesis, methods and results were suspect. The elk population clearly grew beyond predictions, some plants and animals began to disappear, and the importance of Yellowstone’s lost predators and Native Americans should have become undeniable. However, faced with these incongruities, park managers still supported the natural regulation policy. Some researchers closely affiliated with management then began to invoke climate change as a potential factor for observed ecosystem degradation, but the evidence for this was similarly tenuous. On the basis of the almost overwhelming evidence, Wagner concludes that much of the park-sponsored science on the natural regulation paradigm “missed the mark” and that “Yellowstone has been badly served by science.”

For scientists or managers working in similar arenas of high ecosystem values and intense politics, the book’s concluding chapters will be of most interest. Here, Wagner explores the interface between science and policy. As an alternate model to Yellowstone’s research and management system, he promotes an adaptive management process (Walters 1986) where an open political environment exists between scientists, stakeholders, and managers. Here, a controversial management option such as natural regulation could have been evaluated, as Wagner advises, “in the bright light of objective scientific understanding.” Stakeholders and managers could then use this knowledge as a basis to adjust policies quickly before grave ecological consequences occur.

However, the limited and, in terms of literature review, dated discussion of the public policy process is a weakness of the book. A more complete discussion of ecosystem management in a highly polarized political environment could have described a range of current approaches for collaborative problem solving. In fact, another recent review of wildlife management in Yellowstone concluded that the major problem facing the park was not the quantity or quality of the science, but the lack of mechanism to resolve conflicts between and within groups of scientists, stakeholders and agency managers. Gates et al (2005) remark that “collaboration is necessary to define what is acceptable; science is necessary to define what is possible; organizing people to use knowledge to design and implement management in the face of uncertainty is fundamental.” Applied ecological researchers, progressive managers, and stakeholders with a strong civic responsibility should strive for this ideal. Our parks, and indeed most places on our planet, need high-profile models such as Yellowstone, where science should help people to understand, value, and maintain the biodiversity of ecosystems.


Gates CC, Stelfox B, Muhley T, Chowns T, Hudson RJ. 2005. The Ecology of Bison Movements and Distribution in and beyond Yellowstone National Park. Calgary, Canada: Faculty of Environmental Design, University of Calgary.

Mowat F. 1963. Never Cry Wolf. Toronto, Canada: McClelland and Stewart.

Schiff AL. 1962. Fire and Water: Scientific Heresy in the Forest Service. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Walters C. 1986. Adaptive Management of Renewable Resources. New York: Macmillan.

6 May 2008, 7:21pm
Population Dynamics Predators Wildlife Policy
by admin
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Idaho Wildlife Services Wolf Activity Report

USDA-APHIS Idaho Wildlife Services Wolf Activity Report Fiscal Year 2007

Full text [here]

Selected excerpts:


This report summarizes Idaho Wildlife Services’ (WS) responses to reported gray wolf depredations and other wolf-related activities conducted during Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 pursuant to Permit No. TE-081376-12, issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) June 16, 2006. This permit allows WS to implement control actions for wolves suspected to be involved in livestock depredations and to capture non-depredating wolves for collaring and re-collaring with radio transmitters as part of ongoing wolf monitoring and management efforts.

Investigations Summary

WS conducted 133 depredation investigations related to wolf complaints in FY 2007 (as compared to 104 in 2006, an increase of almost 27%). Of those 133 investigations, 88 (~66%) involved confirmed depredations, 19 (~14%) involved probable depredations, 20 (~15%) were possible/unknown wolf depredations and 6 (~5%) of the complaints were due to causes other than wolves.
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6 Apr 2008, 5:20pm
Predators Wildlife Policy
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What They Didn’t Tell You About Wolf Recovery

Dovel, George. 2008. What They Didn’t Tell You About Wolf Recovery. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Full text [here]

Also includes:

Geist, Val. 2008. Two Letters from Dr. Valerius Geist. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Dovel, George. 2008. Attempt to End Airborne Predator Control-How Alaska’s Governor Responded. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Collinge, Mark. 2008. Relative risks of predation on livestock posed by individual wolves, black bears, mountain lions and coyotes in Idaho. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

Dovel, George . 2008. Outdoorsmen Document Surplus Wolf Kills Hunters Comment on Declining Elk Harvests. The Outdoorsman, Bull. No. 26, Jan-Mar 2008.

The Outdoorsman is edited and published by George Dovel. For subscription info please contact:

The Outdoorsman
P.O. Box 155
Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629

Selected excerpts:

By 2006 many people in the West were aware that minimum estimated fall wolf numbers in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming already exceeded the criteria for delisting wolves by several hundred percent. But few seem aware that the FWS agenda to allow this to happen was exposed by wildlife ecologist Dr. Charles Kay way back in 1993 – before any Canadian wolves were transplanted into the three Northern Rocky Mountain states.

In an article entitled, “Wolves in the West – What the government does not want you to know about wolf recovery” in the August 1993 issue of Petersen’s Hunting, Dr. Kay asked the question, “If wolves are brought back how many are enough?” He pointed out that the federal government’s recovery plan announced that when 10 breeding pairs (approximately 100 wolves) existed in each of the three recovery areas for three consecutive years, wolves would be declared recovered and removed from the Endangered Species list.

Then Dr. Kay also pointed out that to prevent harmful inbreeding and protect against random environmental changes, most scientists believed that a minimum population of 1,500 wolves must be achieved. When he attempted to find out why such a low number was being sought for recovery FWS could not produce evidence of any scientific research to justify such a low recovery number. …

Six years after the 10 breeding pairs per area was established as the criterion for delisting, Wolf Project Leader Ed Bangs included Appendix 9 in the draft EIS stating that a questionnaire had been mailed to 43 wolf biologists in Nov.-Dec. 1992 asking whether they agreed with the minimum criteria of 10 pairs established in 1987. The names of the 25 biologists who reportedly responded and the specific answers they provided were not included.

Meanwhile Bangs initiated a letter-writing campaign to discredit Dr. Kay among his peers and elsewhere. Instead Kay’s scientific associates defended him and rebuked Bangs for his attempt to destroy Dr. Kay’s scientific reputation while also attempting to suppress legitimate scientific opinion. …
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31 Mar 2008, 6:09pm
Predators Wildlife Habitat Wildlife Policy
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Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit Working Paper

Armstrong, J. Scott, Kesten C. Green, Willie Soon. 2008. Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit Working Paper Version 68: March 28, 2008

Full text [here]

Abstract: Calls to list polar bears as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act are based on forecasts of substantial long-term declines in their population. Nine government reports were prepared to support the listing decision. We assessed these reports in light of evidence-based (scientific) forecasting principles. None referred to works on scientific forecasting methodology. Of the nine, Amstrup, Marcot and Douglas (2007) and Hunter et al. (2007) were the most relevant to the listing decision. Their forecasts were products of complex sets of assumptions. The first in both cases was the erroneous assumption that General Circulation Models provide valid forecasts of summer sea ice in the regions inhabited by polar bears. We nevertheless audited their conditional forecasts of what would happen to the polar bear population assuming, as the authors did, that the extent of summer sea ice would decrease substantially over the coming decades. We found that Amstrup et al. properly applied only 15% of relevant forecasting principles and Hunter et al. only 10%. We believe that their forecasts are unscientific and should therefore be of no consequence to decision makers. We recommend that all relevant principles be properly applied when important public policy decisions depend on accurate forecasts.

Key words: adaptation, bias, climate change, decision making, endangered species, expert opinion, extinction, evaluation, evidence-based principles, expert judgment, extinction, forecasting methods, global warming, habitat loss, mathematical models, scientific method, sea ice.

Dr. J. Scott Armstrong is professor of Marketing at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Professor Armstrong is internationally known for his pioneering work on forecasting methods. He is author of Long-Range Forecasting, the most frequently cited book on forecasting methods, and Principles of Forecasting, voted the “Favorite Book – First 25 Years” by researchers and practitioners associated with the International Institute of Forecasters. He is a co-founder of the Journal of Forecasting, the International Journal of Forecasting, the International Symposium on Forecasting, and forecastingprinciples.com [here]. He is a co-developer of new methods including rule-based forecasting, causal forces for extrapolation, simulated interaction, and structured analogies.

In 1989, a University of Maryland study ranked Professor Armstrong among the top 15 marketing professors in the U.S. In 1996, he was selected as one of the first six Honorary Fellows by the International Institute of Forecasters. He serves or has served on Editorial positions for the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, the Journal of Business Research, Interfaces and the International Journal of Forecasting , and other journals. He was awarded the Society for Marketing Advances Distinguished Scholar Award for 2000. One of the most frequently cited marketing professors worldwide, his “first-author” citation rate currently averages over 200 per year.

Dr. Kesten C. Green is Senior Research Fellow, Business and Economic Forecasting Unit, Monash University, Australia. He is Co-director of the Forecasting Principles site, forecastingprinciples.com [here], and a member of the Editorial Board, Foresight: The International Journal of Applied Forecasting and the Editorial Board, Forecasting Letters. He is also Founder and former Director of Infometrics Limited, a leading New Zealand economic forecasting and consulting house. He is also Founder and former Director of Bettor Informed, a computerised horse-racing information magazine based on assessment of probabilities under different conditions.

Dr. Willie Soon is a physicist at the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory. Among his many published research studies is Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes Of The Past 1000 Years: A Reappraisal with Sallie Baliunas, Craig Idso, Sherwood Idso, and David R. Legates. Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, Nos. 2 & 3, 2003.

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