Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wildlife Services pushes back

A few weeks ago I pulled apart the letter from the American Society of Mammologists to Wildlife Services asking them to redirect their efforts. At the time, I concluded it was pure stealth issue advocacy on the part of ASM. Now a response from Wildlife Services has been brought to my attention. It appears to strike a fairly balanced tone, pointing out factual inaccuracies and providing some larger context to the big numbers in the ASM letter. Notable by their absence however are any citations to work demonstrating the efficacy of predator control operations of any sort.
I've been a bit intrigued by the whole coyote/sheep damage thing, and have been rooting around looking for peer-reviewed science on the issue. Yesterday I came across a special issue in Journal of Wildlife Management from 1972. A couple of quotes that together warmed my heart:

"... the application of what we know is limited by the accepted sociopolitical, economic framework or climate."
Jack Berryman , JWM 36, 395-400

"I cannot agree with Berryman (1972) that we have better scientific knowledge and data than we can apply because of social and political pressures."
Maurice Hornocker, JWM 36, 401-404

Berryman's point was that we knew enough to solve the problems scientifically - what was needed was a rethink of how society governs predators, not more science. Hornocker disagreed, and then goes on to say that  not only do we need more science but we need to communicate it better ... oh, where have I heard that refrain before? Reluctantly, I conclude that we have learned almost nothing in 40 years. We have more science on coyotes being ignored in the political debate than ever before. It is more available than ever before - a Google Scholar search turned up dozens of scientific articles on coyotes and coyote control, many available free as full-text. And yet it is not being used. Why? Because its political. Berryman had it right in 1972. 

No comments:

Post a Comment