Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wolf Management reprise

On The Wildlife Society Blog Michael Hutchins criticized Deborah Peter's article in the Huffington Post on the current wolf harvest. One section in particular emphasizes why wolf management will be political, not scientific, and thus not a good candidate for AM:
I hate the fact that Congress intervened in the ESA with regard to wolf management. Management and conservation should be in the hands of scientists and professional managers and not in the hands of politicians. But why did this happen? Precisely because extreme animal rights proponents (and some extreme environmentalists)–unwilling to acknowledge that wolves have indeed recovered, pushed things too far, arguing for no control what-so-ever.
The reason it is political is precisely because different groups hold different values for wolves - ranchers vs. cool headed wildlife scientists vs. extreme animal rights proponents. Last time I looked, people are allowed to have different values, and when they do, politics, not science, will carry the day.


  1. I must say Drew that I am not convinced that controversial or political problems make AM inappropriate. We've used the AM framework in the Delaware Bay to engage adversarial stakeholders previously (and concurrently) engaged largely in a political driven battle against each other over what is truth and how to manage horseshoe crab harvest. I can't deny that after going on 4 years of work to establish a decision making and AM framework that there have not been extremely frustrating times and that there are still unhappy stakeholders. But, the AM concept of incorporating multiple model of the ecological system (i.e., hypotheses of system function) has really brought many of those adversaries into the fold. It has helped the decision makers make major strides towards a politically and scientifically defensible decision process. Having said that mediating these differences and eliciting hypotheses and objectives from the stakeholder would have greatly benefited from professional help (e.r., arbitrators or some sort of mediator).

  2. Like everything in ecology, the prediction of whether a given approach will be successful or not is probabilistic. So, it might be more accurate to say that I believe AM will be much less likely to succeed as the range of divergent values increases. Testing this prediction would require a great deal of careful work to document multiple case studies.

    The other thing it requires is a definition of success - and that is harder than it looks!