September 20, 2017

Collaring Wild Animals: Scientific Research or Playing With Technology?

The manufacture, sale and use of radio telemetry collars for animal research is a racket and perhaps a serious waste of dollars. Depending upon the model of telemetry collar selected for each use, the cost of one such collar can run into the thousands of dollars. One must ask then if the cost of the collars is worth the return on investment? Well, that depends.

What we do know is that using tracking collars for wildlife is big business and a very popular thing to do. The tax payers like it because of their perverse love, adoration and all out worship of any kind of animal…well, until such animals become a real threat to them. The average tax payer doesn’t know how the collar is used and seldom is any “scientific research” information/data shared with the public. When it is, a trained eye recognizes very little scientific process and whole lot of speculation and theory swapping.

When it is a most difficult task to receive information from state fish and wildlife agencies about their “ongoing studies,” some of us are left to only guess what it is they are using collars on animals for and what actual data is being collected. So, let’s take a look at what is, might and could be done with a tracking collar.

What got me thinking about this popular event of tracking animals with radio telemetry, was an exchange of emails among a handful of wildlife scientists about this very subject. The foundation of discussion was centered around an article written about a collared wolf in British Columbia, Canada that was tracked along a route covering over 300 miles (not unusual). The journey for the wolf came to an end when it was legally shot and killed by a hunter. Of course this prompted outrage from the above described group of perverse, adoring wolf worshipers. But that’s not the topic of this immediate discussion.

In the email exchange, questions arose about what, if any, data and information was being collected on this wolf other than to know where the male wolf was at any point in time when a “data point” was sent (telemetry) and recorded on a computer. One scientist commented: “Reading the story makes me suspect that the wolves are collared and then left alone, while “researchers” are watching wiggly lines on the computer screen – and start guessing what is going on.”

Which brings us back to one of my original comments that because of the stinginess of researchers to share information, minus their speculations, the rest of us are left to guess (our own speculation) as to just what it is they are doing or not doing.

It seems about the only place we can get any information about studies is through the “Echo Chambers” of the Press. The vast majority of news media personnel are nothing more than “copy and paste” writers who wouldn’t understand what a true scientific process was if it was spelled out for them. As such, what is reverberated in the echo chambers is the Environmentalist’s nonsense, most often including speculation and theorizing about each collared animal based on placing human values on the animals – i.e. a guess as to what animals might be thinking, doing, etc. based more than likely on human projection of human values.

The State of Maine claims to be in the middle of a moose study. I have written extensively on this project and moose management in general. You can search this website, mostly under the Maine Hunting column.

What has been doled out to the public, which we have no idea if this is an actual reflection of the study, is that biologists placed collars on a hundred or so calf moose and some cows. It has been passed on that the purpose of the “study” is to find out the effects of winter ticks (moose ticks – Dermacentor albipictus) on moose mortality. All that we have been told is that when one of the collars stops moving, the collar sends a signal notifying researchers of the non movement. Somebody will go find the stationary collar (as quickly as possible – wink, wink) and attempt to determine what killed the moose.

This is one function that we are allowed to know about, evidently. But what kind of science is this? Or is it any kind of scientific research that will provide data and observation in order to find out more useful information in order to create better management plans? Who knows. It would seem that if any fish and game department was going to go through the expense and time to trap and collar moose, a full spectrum of scientific observation, collection of data, and analysis would be implemented into the effort. Is it? Who knows.

If the only thing these researchers are doing is sitting in front of a computer screen, in their comfortable offices, “watching wiggly lines” so somebody can go to the site where they think a moose died in hopes of determining cause of death, what is the real value of placing the collars on the moose?

It appears the collars work pretty good for “tracking.” Watching wiggly lines on a computer screen can tell biologists where a moose has gone over any prescribed length of time. They receive a signal when a collar becomes motionless for a period of time. Suggesting the collared animal might be dead, researchers journey into the woods to see what they can find…we are told.

Then what?

How well trained are the biologists in determining cause of death? So, they get to the scene and see a dead moose. It’s covered with winter ticks. The moose looks emaciated and missing hair/fur. No cuts, scratches, etc. are noticed on the moose and is it assumed that the moose died from the effects of the winter ticks? Other than tracking this moose on a computer screen, did researchers enter the woods on a regular basis in order to know, not speculate, what this dead moose had been up to over the weeks and months prior to it’s death? Where was the moose when it died, and in relation to where it normally “hung out?” How is this fact relevant to making a determination of its cause of death? Did the moose actually die of exhaustion, due to a combination of a low blood supply from the ticks, poor nutrition (it is winter you know) and being harassed by predators, including harassment by humans – both scientists and the general public? If it appears the moose was partially eaten, are the biologists adequately trained in making determinations of the kill tactics of predator suspects? How many of such kills has each scientist seen and been a part of? Are they trained to know when the dead animal became a meal for scavengers or when it became a meal by the kill of a predator?

What other data is collected on this moose? Is a full necropsy (animal autopsy) done, along with checking for all diseases and health issues? Moose calves are probably too young to have contracted what Maine biologists like to call “lung worm,” also known as Hydatid cysts caused by the existence of Echinococcus granulosus parasites carried and spread by wild canines (coyotes, foxes, raccoons). It has been shown that this disease exists in moose in the state of Maine. An infected moose, having cysts in the lungs, heart or liver, can seriously hamper a moose’s ability to escape danger from predators. Is this aspect of a moose’s death even considered, or is it just passed off as death by winter ticks? It is important to know the differences if ever there was hope to do anything about the problem.

Tracking a moose, or any other animal, with a radio telemetry collar can tell biologists where a moose is at pretty much any given point in time. One could argue that is science, but if you call that science it isn’t very good science.

Another scientist in our email discussion referred to this action this way: “…just data points that merely define where they [collared animals] are at a given time. What they are doing, which really matters, is left to interpretation, [and] conjecture. Until an effort is made to “follow” as closely as possible the movements of radio-collared animals, we can expect more “Research Lite.”

It is not a simple task to net a moose and snap a collar around it’s neck, wait to see if it’s going to die and then go find it to see if you can tell what killed it. However, is that effort alone worth the time and expense? Before this “study” began, I really don’t think it took a highly educated wildlife biologist to figure out winter ticks were knocking the hell out of the state’s moose herd.

What other information is being gathered and will any of the rest of us get to see it and not be relegated to the end of the line waiting for another copy and paste edition of our favorite echo chamber? I’m guessing the latter.

Who knows!

Share

Scientism’s Helpful Echo Chambers

I spent several hours yesterday conducting a deeper, forensic search and examination into what most people would probably consider “scientific” pieces concerning Dermacentor albipictus, or what is most commonly known as the winter tick or a moose tick.

Anyone can do some basic research and discover a few pages of information displayed as conclusions about how the moose (Alces alces) is affected by the winter tick – the most of it being anecdotal evidence. In short, it’s a great example of the modern-day echo chamber that results in dreadful conclusions directed at promoting political agendas and non-scientific balderdash.

If you weed out the obvious and repetitious campfire weenie roasts of those who simply copy and paste someone’s work other than their own, you end up with a small handful of documents most are eager to label as scientific research and scholarship.

An honest approach to the existing pieces of work on winter ticks and moose, will find that the majority of the “research” (I hate to use that term) is geared toward how moose act and react when weighted down with the ticks. Very little is actually written or studied about the tick itself. Too much information written comes from assumptions and speculation.

It’s not that each of these somewhat scientific writings don’t contain useful information but the real problem lies in how to understand what is being written and separating it from the damned nonsense repeated in the media and other echo chambers.

An honest examination of each of these reports shows at least two issues that should prompt a legitimate researcher to, at least, ask some questions. One issue is that, like with most “scientific” papers, preexisting and perhaps precedent-setting conclusions, not necessarily ever challenged or questioned, are readily used by “scientists” to plug into their own work, to make it work, instead of doing their own. Problems abound from this approach even though it has become a readily acceptable form of dishonesty – in effect a bastardization of the scientific process.

The second issue, which leads to the real serious problems of dishonest scholarship, is that we read a lot of “we assume” and “it is believed” and “it could have been” – the list is endless of non specific, unscientifically supported, and troubling nonsense. It appears that these types of “conclusions” are often taken by other scientists, the media, or anyone searching for a narrative to fit their cause, as the gospel and honestly or dishonestly omit any reference to unsubstantiated conclusions.

Examining the text of all these studies, we see often where actual experimentation was given over to assumptions or another researcher’s conclusions, often based upon unproven and untested determinations. In one particular piece of work, the text read that “it was assumed” that the conditions “might have” etc.

In conducting such research, I often look for a common denominator. From there, I try to see if such common themes are the product of echo chambers or conclusions drawn from a person’s own scientific methods and precisely what those methods are. This requires patience and determination.

It appears that, from the few existing scientific papers available on winter ticks and moose, I could assess that each scientist or group of scientists claimed that the biggest factors effecting the viability of winter ticks, either after the engorged female ticks drop off the moose in Spring, during the time the female lays her eggs, or climbing vegetation as hatched new larvae, is weather and habitat. That is weather. They do not say climate. They state weather, and give examples of the kind of weather that can, both negatively and positively, effect the winter tick – wind, humidity, temperatures, dry/drought, etc.

This changing weather effects this tick (Dermacentor albipictus) everywhere that it exists. It is readily found in cold climate areas of Canada and Alaska, as well as in warm climates like Texas.

Echo chambers and those with political agendas, cherry pick incomplete information and dishonest conclusions to repeat the non-scientific nonsense that “Climate Change” is why Maine, and other states, have winter ticks. Odd, as well, is that these same mental midgets of mendacity, seem to have drawn their own conclusions that there are more winter ticks now than ever before. I wonder where they got that from?

We know from historic accounts that moose and winter ticks have been around for a long time. There are reports readily available that give anecdotal evidence of periods of time, from 1900 until present, where large numbers of moose have died off and that it was “believed or assumed” that perhaps the winter tick played a role. What does not exist, is scientific evidence that can tell us if the current level of infestation is greater than, less than, or the same as at any point in history. We simply do not know, but that doesn’t stop the Fake News echo chambers, along with many, many fish and game administrators and their assigns, in perpetuating information that may or may not be true.

Oddly, this attitude and approach puzzles me. What is to be accomplished by insisting on dishonest scientific research? I’m sure, with the brainwashing received in our education factories, few new-age biologists would think that there was anything wrong with simply passing bad information after more bad information, if they are clueless to the quality of the information being dealt with. The trouble is, how does this determine responsible wildlife management that we are told is for the purpose of providing the state with a healthy moose population? One can only think there must be something else behind the action – perhaps job security and perpetuation of political agendas, for surely the interest isn’t focused on the animal.

Maine has had moose long before any of us were around, and along with it has been the winter tick. Maine has had winters before and will continue to have winters. Maine has had “severe” winters and “average” winters. Maine has had “mild” winters. All of these conditions persisted over time and will persist into the future. Pulling the “Climate Change” card is too easy and convenient.

We know that the theory of man-caused climate change cannot and will not be proven. Therefore, it just seems a far too convenient an excuse for anything and everything,  providing the lazy scientist with a prostituted answer requiring no work.

I doubt there is little any biologist can do to mitigate the weather and how it will affect the survivability of the winter tick. If scientists would just get off this dead-end road that leads to global warming, perhaps, once again, some sensible scientific research could be put into place again.

I’m not holding my breath.

Share

The Cancer Industry is Too Prosperous to Allow a Cure

We have lost the war on cancer. At the beginning of the last century, one person in twenty would get cancer. In the 1940s it was one out of every sixteen people. In the 1970s it was one person out of ten. Today one person out of three gets cancer in the course of their life.

The cancer industry is probably the most prosperous business in the United States. In 2014, there will be an estimated 1,665,540 new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the US. $6 billion of tax-payer funds are cycled through various federal agencies for cancer research, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI states that the medical costs of cancer care are $125 billion, with a projected 39 percent increase to $173 billion by 2020.

The simple fact is that the cancer industry employs too many people and produces too much income to allow a cure to be found. All of the current research on cancer drugs is based on the premise that the cancer market will grow, not shrink.

John Thomas explains to us why the current cancer industry prospers while treating cancer, but cannot afford to cure it.

Source: The Cancer Industry is Too Prosperous to Allow a Cure

Share

Bears Are Smarter Than Researchers

I laughed my butt off. This just struck me a being really funny. Bwahahahahahahahaha

Share

MDIFW Will Resume Capture and Radio-Collaring Moose

Press Release from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Starting next week, The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will take to the air in year two of an intensive five-year moose study that will provide a greater understanding of the health of Maine’s moose population, particularly factors that impact their survival and reproductive rates.

A trained crew that specializes in capturing and collaring large animals is utilizing a helicopter and launched nets to capture and collar female moose and calves in an area located in and around Jackman and Greenville (centered in Wildlife Management District 8).

“By radio-collaring moose and actively monitoring their movements, we can further understand the factors that can impact Maine’s moose population,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar.

The radio collar study is just one component of the research that IFW conducts on moose. IFW also utilizes aerial flights to assess population and the composition of the moose herd. During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth to determine a moose’s age, measure antler spread, monitor the number of ticks a moose carries, and examine ovaries to determine reproductive rates.

Depending on the weather, the crew plans to start next week, and they plan to capture and then collar 3 adult female moose (cows) and 35 moose that were born this past spring (calves) with GPS collars that will track and broadcast their movements to IFW biologists.

This is the second year that the crew from Aero Tech, Inc. will work in Maine capturing and collaring moose. Aero Tech specializes in this type of capture and collaring, and is currently performing a similar job in New Hampshire. The crew, based out of New Mexico, consists of a team of four, with each having a specialized role in the process.

Prior to their arrival, Kantar and several other IFW biologists will fly and scout different areas of WMD 8 in order to locate cow-calf groups. This pre-capture scouting worked very well last year by providing GPS coordinates to Aero Tech pilots who were able to fly to these areas, and capture and collar moose with an increased efficiency that decreases their time in the air, and the number of days they fly.

Last year, the department collared 30 adult cows and 30 calves.

Once collared, the GPS-enabled collars transmit twice a day, providing biologists the ability to track moose movements. The GPS collars are expected to transmit movement signals for four years. If there is no movement for a certain period of time, the collar transmits a mortality signal, and biologists will then travel by foot to investigate the cause of death.

“Once we receive a mortality signal, we locate the dead moose within 24 hours,” said Kantar. Biologists conduct an extensive field necropsy on each moose, taking blood, tissue and fecal samples that will later be analyzed by the University of Maine-Animal Health Lab as well as other specialized diagnostic facilities,.

This is the second year of the monitoring study. Additional moose and calves will be captured and collared next year.

“This project is just one component of the Department’s multi-faceted moose management system. It provides us with another important tool to ensure we have the most relevant data needed to manage our moose population,” said Kantar.

Upon locating fresh footprints in the snow along the railroad tracks near Wilson Street, Penobscot County Deputy Ryan Allen deployed his K9, Dozer, on the track. Approximately 1.5 hours and nearly two miles later, Deputy Allen located Webb in a large piece of woods between Wilson Street and Bagaduce Road. Webb was very cold, disoriented and not dressed for the extreme cold weather. Maine Game Wardens responded with an ATV and 4-wheel drive trucks to remove Webb from the woods. Capital Ambulance transported him to St. Joseph’s Hospital to be treated for a substantially decreased core body temperature.

Lt. Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service attributed the quick thinking and teamwork of the first responding units to saving the man’s life. Lt. Scott commented, “With temperatures hovering around zero and wind-chills near -15 below, the man would likely not have survived a night in the woods.” The Maine Warden Service reminds us that hypothermia can set in very rapidly in the extreme temperatures we have been experiencing. People should monitor themselves and especially young children for the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Anyone recreating outdoors should dress accordingly, take a friend, and tell someone where they plan to go and when they plan to return.

MooseCollaring

Share

Forcing Humans to “Live in Harmony” With Bears

“We’re finding the cubs, their first year of live, about 80 percent of them survive, which for a wild animal is really, really high,” Rego says. “The adult females, their year-to-year survival is probably 95 percent.”

“For some people, having a bear walk through your yard can be concerning,” Rego says. “We have bears break into houses, kill livestock, attack pets.”<<<Read More>>>

Share

Maine IFW Radio-Collar Moose Research Project Begins

AUGUSTA, Maine – This morning, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife embarked on an intensive 5-year moose research project that will give department biologists an even greater understanding of the health of the Maine moose population, including such keys as adult and calf survival rates and reproductive rates.

“Maine’s moose population is healthy and strong,” said Lee Kantar, the department’s moose biologist. “This research project is an important tool in managing Maine’s moose population, and will benefit all who enjoy Maine’s moose.”

A trained crew that specializes in capturing and collaring large animals is utilizing a helicopter, cartridge-launched nets and immobilization darts to capture and collar female moose and calves in an area located in and around Jackman and Greenville (centered in Wildlife Management District 8).

The plan calls for the crew to capture and collar 30 adult female moose and 30 calves. This area of western Maine was chosen since it is within the core moose range of the state, and earlier research shows that this area already has a lower cow to calf ratio than other parts of the state. The geography and winter conditions of the area are also representative of much of Maine’s moose habitat.

“Capturing more information on female moose and their young is the key to improving our moose management,” said Kantar.

Aero Tech, Inc. specializes in this type of capture and collaring, and recently completed a similar job in New Hampshire. The crew, based out of New Mexico, consists of a team of four, with each having a specialized role in the process.

Kantar, with the assistance of the Maine Forest Service Air Operations Branch, has been scouting and marking GPS coordinates within WMD 8 already. This information will assist Aero Tech in finding moose in this area.

“The Maine Forest Service and their pilots have been extremely helpful in providing flights to locate moose, as well as assisting us with our moose population surveys over the last 4 winters,” said Kantar.

Once collared, the GPS-enabled collars will transmit twice a day, providing biologists the ability to track moose movements. The GPS collars are expected to transmit movement signals for four years. If there is no movement for a certain period of time, the collar transmits a mortality signal, and biologists will then travel by foot to investigate the cause of death.

“Once we receive a mortality signal, we will locate the dead moose within 24 hours,” said Kantar. Where possible, the entire body will be removed to conduct a necropsy in the lab in cooperation with the University of Maine-Animal Health Lab, but if this is not possible, a field necropsy will be conducted.

In May, as females prepare to give birth, movements will also be closely monitored. Once females give birth to calves, biologists will keep a close eye on the young calves.

“After birth, we will use walk-in surveys to monitor calving, as this will give us more information on behavior and mortality,” said Kantar.

This will be the first year of the monitoring study. Additional moose and calves will be captured and collared next year.

This survey is in addition to the research that is already being conducted on Maine’s moose. IFW utilizes aerial flights to assess population and the composition of the moose herd. During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth, the number of ticks a moose carries, and in some cases, examine ovaries to determine reproductive rates.

This will be the second time that moose have been radio-collared in Maine. In the early 1980’s, moose were radio-collared tin order to better understand the range of the moose population.

Share

Maine Deer $0, Loons $6.5 Million

I suppose still relying on global warming to save Maine’s deer herd, the species gets basically nothing while loon birds get $6.5 million from a grant. While I have nothing against loons, a statement found at MPBN kind of stretches the truth a bit, in my opinion.

The bird is under threat from pollution, disease and development.

I guess, “under threat” is subjective and one could conclude that everything in existence might be “under threat” from something. But, loons in Maine are everywhere. So much so that to some they have become a nuisance and are putting strains on fisheries.

There is such a thing as over protection but what does that matter when there’s $6.5 million dollars available to stay in business.

Share

Maine and New Hampshire Moose Populations Uncertain?

For many years now I have wondered what good wild ungulate management does when it appears to be at least 3 years, and probably closer to 5 years, behind boots on the ground reality. I think much of this blame can be put on “modern technology” and computer modeling, as well as a driving impulse to gather mass amounts of data and then take up to a year or more to analyze it and come up with conclusions. In the meantime, real life is passing by.

Computer modeling has proven itself to be useless, that is, unless one is searching for outcome-based results that fits a narrative and more importantly can be used to prostitute money for “the cause.” And what good, really, is all the time and money spent collecting data when by the time it’s all collected and analyzed so many things have changed on the ground, the data becomes mostly outdated and useless?

But none of this matters much at all if we are dealing with fish and game agencies who refuse to consider all factors that effect the task of managing game populations at “healthy” levels.

If we were to listen to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), Maine moose population is robust and growing, with an estimated population of at least 75,000 critters. Really? Some Maine writers and sportsmen are screaming for the state to give out more moose permits. Perhaps that demand is coming a bit too late.

I contend that perhaps 3-5 years ago, Maine had as many as 75,000 moose but a combination of winter ticks and calf predation by too large populations of black bears and wolf/coyote hybrids, has knocked those numbers down considerably. Boots on the ground consensus everywhere in Maine tells us this to be so. The problem is MDIFW hasn’t caught up with that fact and/or they refuse to consider it because it doesn’t agree with their deathly slow methods of data collecting and plugging that data into fancy algorithms to achieve results. It’s not that the data isn’t necessary or valuable, it’s just things happen faster than collection and calculation and that fact isn’t necessarily being considered.

In New Hampshire, authorities there are “setting the record straight” on the status of their moose. New Hampshire says their moose population is dwindling. Is their’s dwindling while Maine’s is growing?

New Hampshire says that moose ticks and brainworm are having effects on the moose. Authorities say in some regions, New Hamshire is “being hit with the double whammy of both winter tick and brainworm.” They at least admit its a problem but not the only problem. But what’s difficult in the debate about winter moose ticks is the lack of scientific understanding of the tick. It seems just about every so-called, wildlife biologist, simply links increased winter ticks with climate change and that’s not true. But why let scientific research on ticks get in the way of a perfectly good agenda?

It is my opinion that one problem N.H. has is how they determine at what population to target as a manageable moose herd.

The public set the goals for the moose population through a public participation process.

You might need to go back and read that again. While public safety should be a part of the equation in determining how many moose is healthy for the state of New Hampshire, has all science of wildlife management been cast aside in favor of social demands? This may be detrimentally so.

I read today an article about the demise of federal fish hatcheries. One such hatchery in South Dakota, the D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery, is going to be closed. A group fighting that closure was quoted as saying:

The agency’s [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] mission has evolved from one that oversees wildlife and fish restoration to one that protects the growing number of endangered species and now oversees the expansion of the nation’s “clean energy” revolution.

While perhaps not a direct management effort by public demands, the trend does exist at all agencies nationwide away from scientific management of wildlife in favor of social acceptance, i.e. the pressures by environmental, non governmental agencies well-funded and full of power.

It appears that New Hampshire is at least willing to admit their moose population may not be as healthy as some may have thought, that is those who like to hop in a car and go spot a moose in a swail hole. However, like Minnesota and other states nationwide, never once is the topic of predation by large predators even mentioned. New Hampshire willingly speaks of ticks and brainworm, even the needed reduction of moose to prevent automobile collisions, along with the dreaded topic of climate change, a topic always sure to generate study grants to keep biologists employed. But they will not speak of predators. Why is that? I point toward the above revelation that fish and game agencies aren’t interested in scientific management of wildlife as much as they are appeasing the environmentalists, which include the animal rights and anti-hunting groups.

New Hampshire, like Minnesota, claims they need more studies to determine what’s killing the moose. Really? I think they want to do more studies so they can ask for more money to keep biologists, with an agenda, employed. Minnesota has been “studying” their moose dilemma for about a decade or more and still they refuse, simply refuse, to consider that predators are having any effect.

What is the point of wasting money on studies that are outcome-based? Good, legitimate, scientific research examines all aspects of a problem and is open and willing to consider all influences. When faux scientists put on blinders, because part of their agenda is predator control, or promoting man-caused climate change, causing real science to suffer, it’s not only a tragedy for science but is criminal in its application and administration of monies obtained for research.

All of these so-called studies would be beneficial if the scientists acted like scientists and halted their determination to prove their biased theories accurate, while at the same time stop shutting out the rest of the world and paid attention to what was happening on the ground now, not what you see after collecting data for months, perhaps years and then trying to draw conclusions while reality slipped them by.

Yes, the Maine and New Hampshire moose populations are uncertain and the reason is just as much because of poor management as it is ticks, brainworm, climate change or auto collisions. Scientific research is so agenda driven it is no earthly good.

Share

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

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.

Share