Friday, March 4, 2011

More on the science and politics of wolves.

The High Country News Range blog posted on the wolf controversy, and stated:
what’s become clear in the cacophony regarding wolves in the West is that where emotion rules, research should.
which is interesting, because the conclusion of social scientists who study the science-policy interface is exactly the opposite. It would be all too easy for scientists to fall into the "stealth issue advocacy" trap in controversy over wolves. The issue is a highly polarizing one - people seem to love wolves or hate them. A scientist wishing to connect their science to policy can easily find themselves arguing for a particular position "only based on objective science", ignoring that their values inevitably influence what they research, how they research it, and what conclusions they draw.
A better role for a scientist, albeit more difficult, is to use science to evaluate a range of policy options. This is in fact what Creel and Rotella have provided for the wolf case: based on 21 studies of wolves, what is the relationship between human offtake (harvest or culling), and total mortality? With this relationship in hand, it is possible to evaluate different harvest quotas in terms of the future wolf population size. That may or may not be used by policy makers in Montana, but it certainly should be taken seriously.

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