January 20, 2018

Top Wolf Scientist Charges Wolf Researchers Have Become Advocates Rather Than Scientists

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Dr. David Mech, the man who invented “balance of nature”, refutes his own claim. Says “Balance of Nature” a Myth.

Top Wolf Scientist Charges Wolf Researchers Have Become Advocates Rather Than Scientists
by George Dovel
The Outdoorsman – Bulletin Number 51 – Page 8

Republished on this website with permission from editor/author.

During a May 7, 2010 Boise State University Radio interview, Idaho Fish and Game Predator Biologist Dr. Hilary Cooley stated emphatically that wolves – not hunters – are necessary to manage elk herds.

Speaking with authority, as if she were part of a team of scientists whose research prompted her statements, Cooley stated:

“We saw this in Yellowstone – when we had tons and tons of elk they could change the entire landscape. We saw songbird densities changing, we saw beaver populations changing – everything responds to that and so while some people like to have high, high densities of ungulates, it’s not always good for the rest of the ecosystem.”

What Cooley was referring to are the alleged “trophic cascades” that many ecologists and most conservation biologists now claim are the stabilizing benefits provided to ecosystems by wolves and other top predators. The basic theory is that the top predator (wolf) reduces the number and/or alters the habits of its prey (elk), which provides more habitat for other species such as beaver, song birds and smaller predators.

This revival of the “Balance of Nature” myth promoted by Durward Allen and his graduate student David Mech in their 1963 National Geographic article, began when Robert Payne coined “keystone species” in 1969 and “trophic cascades” in 1980.

In 1985 Mech Admitted Balance-of-Nature is a Myth

Meanwhile after several more years of research with wolves and moose on Isle Royale and wolves and deer in Minnesota, Mech found that his “balance-of-nature claim had zero validity. Both wolves and their prey were in a constant state of changing from population peaks to radical declines, yet Mech waited until 1985 to publish the truth about what was occurring in both states but with different prey species.

And instead of publishing the correction in National Geographic or major news media – or at least in scientific journals – Mech’s startling confession that he was the cause of the balance-of-nature myth appeared only in National Wildlife Vol. 23, No. 1, and in the May 1985 Alaska Magazine. In that article titled, “How Delicate is the Balance of Nature,” Mech wrote, “Far from being ‘balanced,’ ratios of wolves and prey animals can fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically.”

Several years later, I photocopied the article, including its B&W and color photos, and sent it to the leadership of all 27 organizations in the Idaho Shooting Sports Alliance. But those groups were understandably still so upset with IDFG for letting half of Idaho’s mule deer and thousands of elk die from malnutrition during the 1992-93 winter, they failed to even consider what would happen with wolves 10-20 years down the road.

Misleading Headline: “Wolves Not Guilty”

Because the National Wildlife Federation was promoting wolf recovery, and Mech’s 1985 article emphasized the need to control wolves to prevent the radical swings in populations, his choice of magazines was perhaps understandable. Canadian wolf transplants into Idaho and Wyoming (YNP) would not happen for another 10 years, but the biologists promoting wolves were enlisting all the help they could get from environmental activists to lessen public resistance to restoring wolves.

Twenty years later, Mech’s team of student Yellowstone Park researchers (wolf advocates) issued a news release with the headline, “Wolves Not Guilty,” saying their unfinished research revealed that bears were the major predator of newborn elk and moose calves.

When the study was finally completed, Mech explained that bears killing most newborn elk or moose calves had been documented for several decades. But based on the volume of mail I received from Alaskans who read the “Not Guilty” article, it was too late to change their new opinion that wolves had been wrongly accused of killing elk and moose.

Mech 2008 Testimony Refuted DOW Claims

Mech has always recognized the necessity for state wildlife managers to control wolves that adversely impact either livestock or game populations. And when Defenders of Wildlife and 11 other preservationist groups sued FWS to shut down wolf hunting in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, Mech’s May 9, 2008 22-page testimony destroyed every one of their arguments.

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that federal and state wolf promoters have “been in bed with” for several decades, now oppose the same recovery plans they helped design during the early 1980s. They have parlayed wolf recovery into a never-ending billion-dollar enterprise, and used tainted science and activist judges to support their destructive agenda.

Mech realized that the states’ failure to control wolves to numbers that are biologically sustainable has generated extreme opposition to their very existence in the areas where they are causing problems. The difference between the make-believe world of indoctrinated biologists like Hilary Cooley, and the real world where wolves eventually destroy the wild prey necessary to sustain their numbers, caused Mech to take drastic action in 2011.

On Oct. 26, 2011, Mech submitted an article to the editor of Biological Conservation titled, “Is science in danger of sanctifying the wolf.” He also sent copies to eight wolf scientists for review and suggestions, and on Feb. 29, 2012, the slightly amended article was submitted to Biological Conservation and was accepted for publication on March 12, 2012.

In his article, just before he dropped his bombshell on wolf preservationists who falsely promote the image of the wolf as a saint, Mech mentioned that North America’s wildlife manager, Aldo Leopold, continued to recommend bounties on wolves in 1946 to increase abundance of big game populations. Leopold also warned that extermination of large predators could result in over-browsing.

Propaganda Changed Wolf Image from Devil to Saint

But in 1967 the wolf was listed as endangered and one of the most effective propaganda campaigns of all time began. Mech points out that the image of the wolf changed from a devil to a saint and wolf advocates began to claim that the wolves’ presence was vital to restore healthy “native” ecosystems.

He said that his library has more than 30 books written about wolves and that 27 NGOs have been formed to promote wolf preservation. One of Mech’s reviewers commented on the millions of dollars raised by these groups, and could have commented on the dollars many of them receive for reimbursement of legal fees from the feds each time they sue to halt delisting or hunting.

Mech also said that a large number of researchers have invaded Yellowstone Park with the intention of proving the existence of trophic cascades caused by wolves. Yet he asserts there is not even one YNP study with evidence proving that a cascade actually took place beyond the wolf and its prey.

For example he says the claim that wolves would kill most of the coyotes and replace them with smaller predators has not happened. Instead, after the initial coyote decline they have repopulated the Park with the same number of coyote packs.

Do Wolf Kills Really Benefit Scavengers?

According to Mech the claim that wolves benefit other scavengers by providing more kills ignores the fact that wolves consume most of the prey they kill. If the prey animal died from other causes, the scavengers would have 7-10 times as much meat as is available from a wolf kill.

And he reminds us that as the wolves kill more of the available prey, the scavengers have fewer – not more – animals available for food.

What Really Caused the Restoration of Beavers

Similarly, the claim that wolves killing the elk and/or creating a “landscape of fear” would reduce elk depredation on willows and aspen, which would cascade to restoring beavers, which would, in turn, raise the water table has been highly advertised – but it has never been proved according to Mech.

He points out the reality that there were no beavers in the Northern Range of YNP when wolves were introduced in 1995. He responded to recent unsupported claims that wolves caused beavers to return to the Northern Range and raise the water table with the following excerpt from a recent study:

“What has had little publicity, however, was that the rapid re-occupation of the Northern Range with persistent beaver colonies, especially along Slough Creek, occurred because Tyers of the Gallatin National Forest released 129 beavers in drainages north of the park.”

Mech referred to other research pointing out that the combination of these beaver colonizing in the Park and raising the water table, and a reported 27-day addition to the YNP growing season, were valid reasons for increased growth and height of willows, and aspen. “It should be clear from the above examples that sweeping, definitive claims about wolf effects on ecosystems are premature whether made by the public or by scientists” said Mech.

Mech continued, “Once findings claiming wolf-caused trophic cascades were published, scientists competed to find more. Teams from several universities and agencies swarmed National Parks and churned out masses of papers, most of them drawing conclusions that wolf advocates considered positive toward the wolf.”

He explained that after synthesizing 19 chapters of reviews relating to the ecological role of large carnivores in 2005, a research team concluded, “Scientists will likely never be able to reliably predict cascading impacts on bio-diversity other than prey.” Mech continued, “As one reviewer of this article put it, ecologists (and particularly conservation biologists) do seem obsessed to the point of blindness with predator-induced trophic cascades.”

The extreme bias of their studies is reflected in Mech’s comment that the only wolf study results he can recall that might be considered negative by the public is the 2003 Idaho study by Oakleaf et al who found that in central Idaho, ranchers discovered only one of eight calves that were killed by wolves. That study gained little popular press.

Although Mech candidly named several wolf scientists whose research reports are tainted by their “wolf is a saint” agenda, his closing comments reflect his own agenda. “National Parks are protected from most hunting and trapping, logging, grazing, agriculture, irrigation, predator control, pest management, human habitation, and mining, all of which wreak pervasive, long-term effects on ecosystems.” (emphasis added)

By the time tens of thousands of young biologists and journalists and a hundred million other youngsters have spent 80% of their lives being taught that all human activity destroys healthy ecosystems, they believe that starvation, cannibalism and widespread disease make up a “healthy” ecosystem. Is this the legacy you want to leave to future generations – or are you just too “busy” to care?

Note: This article and many more like it can be found in The Outdoorsman magazine. Please click this link to a PDF page where you can print out a form and subscribe to the magazine. The work of George Doval, editor of The Outdoorsman, is arguably the finest work to be found anywhere in print or online publications.

  • Idaho_Roper

    The truly sad part is….Mech will not be held accountable for his destruction. His rush to conclusion and his over zealous advocacy is plainly and solely responsible for millions of dollars in losses, the undermining of valid wildlife management and an across the board misinformed public.

    It is far past time to hold these other so called sciences to higher standards of proof such as that required in mathematics. this fly by night, one manipulated study creating a so called conclusion to then be put into action is hogwash. While Mech may be trying to cleanse his sole with this revelation, it simply does not undo the damage the man is responsible for, and just because he is hiding behind the false ‘man of science’ should not exempt him from accountability. And this goes for all of the faux scientists and their conservation biology that actually encourages manipulation to get the ‘desired’ outcome.

    In a just world, Mech would die a poor, exposed pauper and he would be in the company of many other fake biologists that he is referring to. They have destoryed more than they could ever pay for.

  • somsai

    No matter Mech’s past stance his advocacy for science based management at this time is certainly welcome.

    I’ve been fairly surprised that article hasn’t seen wider readership.

    He has posted another article more recently here http://news.wildlife.org/twp/2013-spring/the-challenge-of-wolf-recovery/ in the bulletin of the Wildlife Society

    • Wow! I wonder if Ralph Maughan will publish this over at Wildlife Lies?

      • somsai

        The first place I saw reference to Mech’s piece in Biological Conservation was in a rebuttal article by one of the usual parties. Mech himself entered the conversation and it was funny to read the little wolfies doing their sub dominant dance in front of the alpha.

        I try to read Wildlife News every day. It only needs to be read with some understanding. Ralph has zero interest in discussion or informing, he is a propagandist. At the same time links are given to articles current in game management.

        • Idaho_Roper

          “Ralph has zero interest in discussion or informing, he is a propagandist”

          Brother…..not a truer word could have been spoken. It is far past time to change the laws these people have highjacked to fund their propaganda on the taxpayers back.

          • somsai

            Well I didn’t mean to speak disparagingly of Ralph or his web site but that’s his goal. He’s a political scientist. He wants to affect public policy by having a one sided discussion and he’s very happy that his web site is getting lots of hits. He makes no money off it.

            As far as I can tell he hates hunters and ranchers. Why I don’t know, perhaps something from a lont time ago. I think he’s from Idaho isn’t he? He’s written great guidebooks for an area I know well, The Wyoming and Salt River ranges and Commissary ridge.

            I’m a liberal myself but I like ranchers and westerners just fine. Salt of the earth and all that. Spent years in Wyoming, Utah, SE Idaho, small towns too. Some of the nicest people on earth.

            Must have had a bad experience or something. Guy does not like ranchers or rural westerners.

          • RattlerRider

            He’s not from here, and he disparages himself with his own amoral actions.

          • Idaho_Roper

            Perhaps you should look into the EAJA funds that WWP rakes in through their lawsuits. Don’t tell me Walph isn’t making money off of this. He is.

            It isn’t a bad experience, it is an elitist mentality and the fact his money bag (Marvel) set out to bankrupt ranchers. To label Ralph a whore would be an insult to the working women.

          • Yes, and those women in the Silver Valley, gave back to the community even saving miners lives at risk of their own health, and contributed to charity, as well as bought the foot ball team outfits for the Silver Valley football teams in later years.

          • Money! He works and is on the BOARD of Western Watersheds, and they have made millions on the EAJA act, with their activist judge, Judge Wynmill! He is paid very well. There isn’t an honorable bone in his body and he knows it.

            Anybody that lets people that “hate” hunters and ranchers, as well as eco-terrorists on their “site” is more than a propagandist they’re Marxist, and LEFT of LENNON.

        • RattlerRider

          ” Ralph has zero interest in discussion or informing, he is a propagandist.” That’s a beauty!

  • Excellent article, I knew about the beavers being let loose because of Bill Hoppe living there, he I think helped plant them, and then they ended back up on his property. I’ll have to ask Scott, it’s in Yellowstone is Dead.

    Tom is Outdoorsman #51 out now, I should have it in the mail?

    • Idaho_Roper

      Yep…another wolf miracle, beavers are booming…….never mind that they were trucked in in the dark of night.

      While these people lie and talk of ‘natural recovery’ they spend an awful lot of time and money manipulating the outcomes, if not outright manufacturing the desired outcome. They are fakes and frauds hiding behind a phd.

  • RattlerRider

    The wolf is the top apex predator? Is that why we see wolf skins and skulls in the possession of men? How about we take a big bad wolf and put it in a pit one on one against a big bad grizzly bear? How about we toss a big bad wolf into the middle of Great White infested waters a few yards from shore? How about a large male wolf in a cage with a large male cougar? How against a Polar bear? Top apex predator my ass.

    • Idaho_Roper

      I agree. This is another one of their manufactured claims. On land their is but one apex predator, and that predator is man. They may not like it, but the truth is we are the ones that ultimately decide which animals live and die and at what levels their populations will be.

      If in fact, the wolf, grizzly etc. are the “apex” predator, there is no need for any protections of any kind. But that kind of destroys the utopian, emotional goals of a planet without man.

  • Another fantastic writing by George Doval.

    I testified last month at the final public hearing to list the wolverine as an endangered species. None other than Dr. Hilary Cooley, was weaving her way through the the crowd attending the informal discussion preceding the hearing. The worlds leading wolverine biologists, and many other bureaucratic pundits rubbed shoulders, stroking each other’s ego’s, and Cooley was amongst them. My good friend Tim K. and I approached them with something they had never once considered, asking them if they had ever considered wolves as the primary contributor to wolverine declines, and not one of them had. In fact, Cooley walked away, never wanting those words to enter her ears. Finally, we struck a chord with a couple of them, at least engaging in the topic.

    A few days later we attended the IDF&G Big Game hearing in Boise, where Defenders of Wildlife-Suzi Stone, Western Watersheds-Ken Cole, and Dr. Hilary Cooley attended the same meeting. Coincidence?

    • Idaho_Roper

      Hilary Cooley? You mean the same HIlary Cooley who use to work for IDFG who was caught on tape saying “wolves can manage elk better than hunters ever could”, that Hilary Cooley?

      I find it telling that after such an absurd comment that she made the quick jump from Idaho wolf pimp to federal wolf pimp. Perhaps she should read Mech’s confession and rethink her indoctrination.

      The entire program, including this wolverine sham, is nothing more than more of the same manufactured movement to take control through illegal legislation (ESA) and rob tax dollars through lawsuits to fund gang green.

      Of course they never considered predation as part of the problem, they consider predators as the cure all to everything, and especially their precious wolf. Never mind the 80 of history that proves human controlled predator populations is the real answer to healthy wildlife populations. Using the real apex predator to balance nature, as we are the only predator even capable of it.