19 Jul 2008, 2:17pm
by admin

Genetics Defective in Wolf Re-listing

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy granted a preliminary injunction, throwing out the delisting of gray wolves in the Northern Rockies and putting them back on the Endangered Species list.

Molloy’s decision is [here]. It is a judicial scientific mess. He based his ruling on a faulty understanding of genetics in wolf populations. A quote:

Plaintiffs argue (1) even though the environmental impact statement on wolf reintroduction specifically conditions the delisting decision on a Finding of Subpopulation Genetic Exchange, the Fish & Wildlife Service delisted the wolf when there is no plausible showing of that genetic exchange between the Greater Yellowstone core recovery area and the northwestern Montana and central Idaho core recovery areas. …

As recently as 2002, the Service determined genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone, northwestern Montana, and central Idaho core recovery areas was necessary to maintain a viable northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in the face of environmental variability and stochastic events. The Fish & Wildlife Service nevertheless delisted the wolf without any evidence of genetic exchange between wolves in the Greater Yellowstone core recovery area and the other two core recovery areas.

The problem is that wolves breed like dogs, and with dogs, coyotes, and everything else dog-like. Genetic purity can only be maintained within limited populations. When wolves are allowed to roam all over, their genotype gets polluted with dog genes.

They become wolf-dogs, like in New Mexico, or wolf-otes, like in Minnesota.

The science of genetics is little bit over Judge Molloy’s head. He is not familiar with alleles, mitochondrial DNA, clades, genomes, etc. That stuff is all too technically scientific for a law judge. Molloy stepped into a prideful trap. He thinks he is an expert in something he totally lacks expertise in.

For a monograph on the genetic complexity of wildlife populations, I suggest Variation in Mitochondrial DNA and Microsatellite DNA in Caribou (Rangifer Tarandus) in North America, by Matthew A. Cronin, Michael D. MacNeil, and John C. Patton, Journal of Mammalogy, 86(3):495–505, 2005 [here]. Granted Cronin et al. were studying caribou, but the same concepts apply to wolves, only more so. If you understand that paper, or even if you don’t, you should grasp the idea that genetics is not a cut-and-dried issue.

Judge Molloy thinks that if there are tens of thousands of wolves in 3+ states, they will be genetically preserved as a species, or at least as a Distinct Population Segment. However, that is exactly wrong. I repeat, the ONLY way genetic purity can be maintained is via a LIMITED population, especially when millions of dogs and coyotes are already present in the region.

The genus Canus gets it on. They are famous for that.

Indeed, wolf populations in the Northern Rockies are growing anywhere from 25 to 50 percent per year. There already are thousands of wolves in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and breeding pairs have spread to Washington and Oregon. They are decimating deer and elk herds and attacking sheep, cattle, horses, pets and other domestic animals.

They are introduced wolves, too, not native. The federal government dumped them there. Now they are multiplying like dogs are wont to do. They are manifestly not endangered, but are endangering other life forms. They are terrorizing rural residents. Wolves carry rabies and a variety of other diseases. They kill for sport on killing sprees, not for food, evidenced by the fact that wolves take a bite or two from their dead (or almost dead) prey and move on.

But Judge Molloy has decided that he is a geneticist and an expert on the allele drift in canids. Manifestly he is not.

In a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals [here], an impaneled jury of judges proclaimed that they are not scientists, not expert in technical scientific matters, and must defer to real experts.

But Judge Molloy paid no attention to that decision and let his misplaced pride cloud his judgment. Speaking of clouds, here’s a bit of doggerel from Molloy’s decision:

This case, like a cloud larger than a man’s hand, will hang over the northwest states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming until there has been a final determination of the complex issues presented.

He fancies himself a poet, too, evidently. But the judge is not a poet nor a geneticist and has overstepped. This case must be appealed. At some point some rational jurist has to get over himself and deal with real facts as presented by real experts, not those offered by posturers and pseudos.

19 Jul 2008, 9:37pm
by Pat

I would like to know YOUR credentials please.

19 Jul 2008, 11:47pm
by Mike

Okay, since you asked so nicely. The following does not include publications.

Career Summary, Mike Dubrasich

Experienced professional forester/statistician/biometrician skilled in all aspects of research planning, statistical methods and analyses, and information technology. Successful employee/employer, small businessman, and private consultant. Graduate training in statistics, forest biometrics, natural resource economics, forest management, tree farm management, and computer applications.

Professional Experience

Forester/Biometrician/Natural Resource Consultant 2001-present

Founder, sole proprietor, Forest Analytics, LLC, Lebanon, Or. Expert services in biometrics, forestry, tree farming, and environmental monitoring. Executive Director, Western Institute for Study of the Environment, 2008.

Forest Analytics provides forestry and statistical consulting services including:

-time series, survival analyses, exceedence analyses
-econometric market and marketing analyses,
-project and proposal reviews, cost/risk allocation analyses,
-time-and-motion studies, factor screening, critical path network analyses,
-compliance/quality control systems spatial and temporal pattern analyses,
-power analyses, Taguchi analyses, efficiency models, quality assurance,
-data mining, graphical visualization of quantitative information,
-population and growth modeling, landscape history analyses, forest modeling,
-forest history reconstruction, forest structure analysis, restoration forestry
-workshops and employee training

Forester/Statistician/Biometrician 1995-2001

Founder/Manager, Pacific Analytics LLC, Albany, Or. Providing services to natural resource owners, with emphasis in forest biometrics, natural resource inventory, monitoring, and statistical ecology. Clients included NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the US National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service, and numerous other agencies, businesses, universities, research centers, and laboratories. Employed up to 12 people.

Private Professional Forester 1983-1995

Founder/Manager, Sylvan Systems, Forest Care Services, Hood River, Or. Projects undertaken included forest management, resource inventory, monitoring, appraisal, silviculture, harvest administration, road and logging engineering, reforestation, growth and yield analysis, timber tax analysis, estate planning, land-use planning, municipal watershed management, visual resource management, wetlands management, rural economic development, forest product marketing, contract negotiation and administration. Employed up to 5 people.

Research Associate 1996

University of Hawai’i at Hilo. Co-authored reports on Hawaiian crop trends, development of a Hawaiian Agricultural Research Center, and maintenance of Hawaiian agricultural cooperatives. Developed successful proposals for funding technological improvements to the UHH Distance Education System (linking remote classrooms via satellite communications).

Graduate Research Assistant 1991-1995

College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis. Teaching assistant for undergraduate courses in forest models, silviculture, and statistics. Managed Harris Computer Lab. Trained and managed field crews for southwest Oregon spotted owl project, statistical analysis of forest canopy structure and multicohort stand development. Received Master of Science degree in statistics with emphasis in forest biometrics, March 1995.

Service Forester and Assistant Manager 1982

Lava Nursery, Parkdale, Or. Helped to establish and manage tree seedling nursery, 15MM/year production. All phases, including personnel management, quality control, farm practices, and reforestation. Supervised up to 18 people.

Assistant Forest Manager 1979-1981

Hood River County Forest, Hood River, Or. Managed inventory, forest planning, and reforestation on 30,000-acre county forest, 6MMBF annual harvest. Contract preparation and administration. Land exchanges, firefighting, recreation management, site prep/weed control, logging engineering. Supervised up to 14 people.

Research Technician 1976-1978

USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Forest & Range Experiment Station, Corvallis, Or. Participated in numerous studies as a employee of the West-side Cascades Ecosystem Project.

Professional and Community Affiliations (partial listing)

Association of Consulting Foresters of America - past member and former Oregon Chair
Hawai’i Forest Industry Association – past member
Hood River County Soil and Water Conservation Board - past Board of Directors
Institute for Sustainable Forestry – past member
North Benton County Citizens Advisory Committee - past Chair
Oregon Small Woodlands Association - past Board of Directors
Society of American Foresters - past member
The Forest Foundation, current member
The Evergreen Foundation, current member
Western Institute for Study of the Environment, Founder and current Executive Director


1974 B.S. Forestry - University of California, Berkeley, CA
1995 M.S. Statistics - Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

20 Jul 2008, 9:05am
by Mary M.

Here in the Southwest I attended a wolf workshop a few years ago with presentations by “experts” from near and far. There were presentations by genetists who were quite concerned about the severe and progressive signs of inbreeding amongst the Mexican ‘wolf’ population.

There was anxious speculation about how the northern and southern gray wolf populations could meet in Colorado, breed, and solve the genetic problems of Mexican ‘wolf’. What good is there, biologically, to ’save’ by unrealistic population numbers arbitrarily determined distinctions in animal populations, only to plan to obliterate them?

This whole predator recovery situation is so full of engineering based on agendas rather than science. It seems as if the real goal is to inundate the landscape with large predators of one stripe or another regardless of the impact on man, beast or even the forests by rendering them to dangerous to access.

Dave Parsons, upon assuming directorship of the Mexican ‘wolf’ recovery, decided (with much chagrin to others and no further evidence) that animals which had already been unanimously determined by the original recovery team to be too hybrid and genetically insufficient for a recovery program were, all of a sudden with no further evidence, categorically ‘O.K.’ for recovery.

This same Mr. Parsons, now with the (pro-humanless-landscape) Rewilding Institute recently testified before a Congressional committee about the terrible genetic problems, leaving out the fact that he created the problems by his own original irrational decision to use genetically insufficient animals.

Now the people on the land, according to Mr. Parson’s plea to Congress, should sacrifice further their safety, welfare, health, pets, children, livelihoods, cultures, communities, futures etc. via no control of problem wolves to solve the genetic problems created by Parsons’ poor decision years ago.

20 Jul 2008, 9:42am
by Mike

The entire Mexican gray (so-called) wolf population was sired by three (some say five) wolf-dogs. Animals were raised in kennels, and then released, in the hopes that they would breed in the wild. There was and is much concern about crossbreeding with dogs and coyotes that might taint the gene pool. If there is questionable patrimony, wolf pups born “in the wild” are “euthanized” according the recovery program. The pups are snuffed, in other words, to keep the gene pool clean, even though the gene pool has been dirty from the beginning.

In contrast, according to the SAME agency, Northern Rockies wolves are supposed to wander for hundreds or thousands of miles and interbreed all over with absolutely no genetic controls in order to “save” that population. It’s just the opposite of the program in New Mexico.

So which style of wolf gene management is scientific? They can’t both be, because they are opposite in their approaches. Is science whatever the agency says today over here, even though it clashes with what they said yesterday over there? Does the USFWS get to have it both ways? Is their style to do grievous harm to the citizens who pay their salaries while justifying the oppressions with self-contradictory pseudo-scientific gibberish?

The Prebles jumping mouse is listed in Colorado but not in Wyoming. Does the mouse know where the arbitrary, imaginary political boundary is? When did political boundaries become biological ones?

What passes for “science” emanating from the USFWS is a joke and a half. And a federal judge, sitting in his lofty tax-supported perch, decides which joke gets inflicted on an unwilling populace today in the name of the US Constitution. It doesn’t matter that three states said no, we don’t want killer predators roaming our countryside, killing our livestock, terrorizing our children. One federal judge can slam the door on millions of people with junk science and a gross misinterpretation of basic human rights, formerly guaranteed by our Constitution but now trampled by it.

There is an answer to all this. Ignore the judge. Tell him to go fly a kite. Cut off his salary. Stop sending him paychecks. Make him get a real job. Do the same to the USFWS. No pay and I assure you they will not show up for work. They don’t really care about wolves; they care about paychecks. Stop the cash flow and all the problems will disappear overnight.

22 Jul 2008, 11:12am
by Steve A.

If the US Fish and Wildlife Service decides not to appeal Judge Malloy’s one man decision to derail the entire delisting process and “roll over”, abandon, and not go to battle for sportsman after all the merits of available science, expert witnesses, and time and energy that have been spent substantiating the merits of delisting, and allowing one Judge to play God undermining all of the above, then I have to wonder if Dr. Charles Kay’s research has been correct, that delisting has been rigged from the beginning, and the feds have been playing us all along. Idaho’s very own Former Governor , Dirk Kempthorne, who is the man behind all of this, has decided to abandon his former constituents as he promised he would!

4 Aug 2008, 12:45pm
by Helen F.

The problem was the discussion of genetic exchange. The ESA has no provision for genetic exchange of species’ or subspecies’ in experimental populations. The appendices section of the gray wolf introduction EIS had an addendum of hope (by the author) that genetic exchange would occur, which was a direct violation of the intent of the ESA.

ESA Sec. 10 (j) Experimental Populations-(1) “experimental population” means any population (including any offspring arising solely therefrom) authorized by the Secretary for release under paragraph (2), but only when, and at such times as, the experimental population is wholly separate geographically from nonexperimental populations of the same species.

How can it be both? Molloy’s decision was inappropriately based on a back-door USFWS policy of genetic interchange written by Ed Bangs which appears to be a contradiction to the law. And if genetic exchange was the intent all along, why was the intent obscured in the last two pages of personal comments by the author of the EIS instead of front and center as the primary justification for Canadian wolf introduction?

4 Aug 2008, 1:00pm
by Helen F.

Another interesting point on the genetic interchange between wolves: the USFWS was certain (and stated as much in the EIS) that the introduced species would co-mingle with the native Rocky Mountain wolf (also listed with an EIS), it didn’t happen quite the way they envisioned. I read a USFWS paper that disclosed that the Canadian wolves killed the Rocky Mtn. wolves upon first encounters. The introduction did more harm than good to the native species, so I wonder how they have been able to explain or justify any genetic interchange when there in fact has been genetic extirpation, according to their own scientists.

8 Aug 2008, 1:20pm
by Tony M


It’s time that all concerned parties coalesce efforts and take a stand to reverse the tide that the pro-wolvers are riding on this wolf delisting issue.

We all need to begin efforts to lobby and demand our representatives and legislature develop and pass wolf control legislation on a state level. We need to recognize that whatever wolf control legislation that is developed will most likely be deemed as illegal and will be trumped by the Federal ESA. However, we need to prepare for the ultimate argument in the US Supreme Court by convincing surrounding state legislatures to adopt similar state wolf control legislation. If a coalition of affected states (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, etc.) pass the same or similar legislation – the Ninth Circuit court and ultimately US Supreme court will have a hard time siding with the pro-wolf extremists and should rule in favor of states Constitutional Rights to manage game within their boarders.

Let me know your thoughts and I will appreciate any comments you may have, and in particular comments from anyone with a legal background who is willing to assist in adoption of specific language to submit for possible legislative consideration.

Tony Mayer



web site

leave a comment

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta