Hmmm, not many details on what that means however, and the peer review of their plan called them out on it. So on March 12, 2012 they released a clarification of the Adaptive Management plan. Let's see ... compare their plan to the Structured Decision Making checklist:The Department will use an adaptive management approach to employ harvest strategies to meet management objectives.
- Problem - Keep wolf numbers above the level that would trigger ESA re-listing and otherwise as low as possible.
- Objectives These are present, and at least some of them are partially SMART, e.g. maintain > 10 breeding pairs and > 100 wolves in the state outside Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Reservation. This is specific, measurable, a , relevant. Time frame? There's something in the original plan about the total Northern Rocky Mountain population meeting targets over each 3 year period, but not clear from my first read how that steps down to Wyoming. They also have objectives to maintain > 1 migrant per generation between Idaho and Wyoming subpopulations, and to minimize economic losses to the livestock industry. That last one in particular is very very fuzzy. There may be others, but there's no clear "objectives" section that spells it all out for us.
- Alternatives The primary alternative that is considered here is variations of quota and season length within the Wyoming Trophy Game Management Area, that is, hunting regulations. There are also variations on depredation permits and translocation is mentioned for helping with gene flow issues. The hunting regulations will be set annually, so this is an iterated decision that is appropriate for Adaptive Management. Apparently Wyoming does compensate land owners for livestock depredation, but higher or lower levels of compensation doesn't seem to be called out as an alternative.
- Consequences Consequences? There will be consequences to these actions? Nowhere do they attempt to examine how different alternatives will lead to different outcomes for the objectives, and as a result ...
- Tradeoffs there ain't no stinking tradeoffs to be made, we can do it all. Actually in the clarification they do point out, at length, that managing wolves to be next to the 10/100 level would reduce their flexibility to do depredation control, etc., so they won't do that. What they will do isn't clear either, but they won't be aiming to be at the minimum.
Overall, I'd have to grade this as a D-. They're partway there, but it could be much more clearly spelled out. And someone IS predicting consequences, very precisely too, so I'd like to know how.
P.S. I found it! 52 is the sum of the hunting quotas for the 12 designated hunting areas. So it would be more accurate to describe the prediction as a maximum, assuming that hunting closes down in an area exactly on time and no one accidentally goes over. To be fair to the story in the Ranger, only the headline suggests that 52 is a prediction, in the body of the text they say it is the number hunters are allowed to kill, not the number they will kill. Apparently all other sources of mortality will add up to 46. As far as I can tell, the total number of mortalities for 2012 is based on the assumption that a wolf population can sustain 36% annual anthropogenic mortality before declining - and LO! 0.36 (270) = 97.2, or approximately the total number of expected human caused deaths in 2012.