August 14, 2018

A question of “Science”?

The following question was sent to a colleague recently”

Question: “Was the Arctic Gray Wolf EVER native to Washington State?”

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The following response to that question comes from another colleague who is coincidentally a retired University professor in Canada for whom I have the greatest respect.

The gray wolves are all one species, and the subspecies game is highly questionable. There are indications that a very few local wolves did exist in the west before the release of wolves from Alberta. I only saw one picture of a wolf in Yellowstone before the release, and it was simply a large, black wolf, no different from what I had seen in Canada. Size is not a taxonomic criterion, because wolves increase in size markedly with good nutrition and shrink in size with poor food availability. The large wolves from Alberta released in Yellowstone merely came from a good wolf habitat.”

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Though in no way dissatisfied with that response, this old bureaucrat (me) added the following government-science perspective: 

The last political-correctness-free treatise on the Wolves of North America is oddly enough the name of the 1944 book by Stanley Young.  He was a Bureau of Biological Survey/USFWS (the modern name) trapper, control agent and finally a bigwig in Washington over the old Predator & Rodent Control Division going back to WWI and he was all over the place doing all manner of things.

In his 650-page tome full of pictures (the one of the red wolf/hound dog cross on a chain in Missouri is priceless) he treats the wolf as a species.  He pictures many coyote/dog/wolf crosses and innocently explains that they interbreed freely and the pups are all viable and completely capable of transferring their genes to either wild or domestic “cousins” for posterity.

That said I always hear echoes of that high school/college/biological historic definition of an animal Species when I am discussing Species, i.e. “animals with similar characteristics capable of interbreeding and producing viable offspring.”.  By that definition, a horse is a separate species from a donkey because the mule is not viable.  Ergo, a dog is a wolf is a coyote is a dingo, in fact all one “species”.  I mention this to provide what they call “full disclosure” of my belief. 

Mr. Young, whom I never met but have always held in high regard treats the wolf “species” Canis Lupus as having 23 “subspecies” on a map on page 414.  Each subspecies name credits some long-gone biologist as their discoverer (i.e. given the privilege of “naming” their “discovery”).  The North America map is covered exception for Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Florida(?) from Southern Mexico to Greenland and all the Islands between Greenland and Canada with 23 “subspecies”.  There is no “Arctic” wolf mentioned.  The closest is those wolves Canis lupus tundrarum found in the “tundra region of NW Alaska; south to the Noatak Valley.  Intergrading to the south with pambasileus, and east along the along the arctic coast with mackenzii.”

I mention all this to show how our biological perceptions have changed with scientific advancements driven in this case all too much by political opportunism and the hidden agendas of rich environmental/animal rights extremism.  This is so distorted because the government bureaucrats and radicals came up with the ESA claims and regulations that (insert any animal here) implement the Endangered Species Act.   

So, the erstwhile bureaucrat writing regulations and staging faux court cases for “precedents” finds the “Beers’ Grass Mouse”Peromyscus Beersii to be “endangered”.  As our bureaucrat toils at his computer and while at coffee he decides and shares with fellow bureaucrats that, “We are really “saving habitat” (i.e. people-free zones infinitely expanding) and not just animals, so we “must save not only:

  • The Species Beers’ Grass Mouse Peromyscus Beersii found throughout the Great Plains but more specifically;
  • The Subspecies Beers’ Big-Eyed Grass Mouse Peromyscus Beersii magna luscus found in the Eastern Prairies and more specifically;
  • The Race Black Beers’ Big-Eyed Grass Mouse Peromyscus Beersii magna luscus negris found “only” in the Eastern Woodlands/Prairie interface and more specifically;
  • The Population Indiana Black Beers’ Big-Eyed Grass Mouse Peromyscus Beersii magna luscus negris indianus) AND EVEN – drumroll please;
  • The Distinct Population Southern Indiana Black Beers’ Big-Eyed Grass Mouse Peromyscus Beersii magna luscus negris indianus meridionalis) AND EVEN;
  • (Full band roll here) The Distinct Population Segment Larry Bird County Southern Indiana Black Beers’ Big-Eyed Grass MousePeromyscus Beersii magna luscus negris indianus meridionalis larrybbirduscountyii found “only” in Larry Bird County, Indiana! 

All such nonsense has come to mean access to billions of dollars, millions of acres of private property and unquestioned, unconstitutional and unlimited power for the central government and radicals over a once free Nation.  You see there is probably a dam or pipeline permit application somewhere in Larry Bird County, Indiana that would benefit taxpayers, the economy, rural communities, rural families and could, if anyone cared to try anymore, benefit the human ecosystem and the natural aspects of that system but it will never happen: The Critical Habitat Declaration for the Larry Bird County Southern Indiana Black Beers’ Big-Eared Grass Mouse kills the project and they are cheering in Washington Offices and on the North Shore patios of environmental radicals in Chicago.  Welcome to the world of government “science” “saving” “species”.

Val (the retired professor quoted in the first answer) hits the nail right on the head about those “large wolves from Alberta”.  Concern about the “red” or “Mexican” et al wolves is disguised in the imaginary aura of somehow involving sacred and unseen biological material and factors hidden in the Sp./Sub. Sp./Race/Pop. /Dist. Pop. /Dist. Pop. Segment. du jour.  We have sold our kids and soccer Moms that a red wolf or “Arctic” Wolf is like the rhinoceros, unique, distinct and in “need” of severe intervention by government saviors; people, property, families, rural communities, expense and Constitution be damned!

I would submit that this environmental/animal rights hysteria of the moment is, hopefully, a passing phenomenon because the subject of scientific inquiry is so distorted now that, like Diogenes with his lantern looking for an honest man; looking for an honest biologist/veterinarian today is on a par with seeking an honest bureaucrat/politician.

Jim Beers

26 June 2018

If you found this worthwhile, please share it with others.  Thanks.

Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC.  He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands.  He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC.  He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority.  He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.

Jim Beers is available to speak or for consulting.

You can receive future articles by sending a request with your e-mail address to:   jimbeers7@comcast.net

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More Than a Million “Coywolves” in the Northeast?

Perhaps that claim is nonsense. Perhaps it’s not. What is nonsense is much of the discussions taking place about this seemingly newly discovered ad mixture of coyote, domestic dog and wolf.

The truth is nobody knows how long this crossbreeding has been going on. Much of its existence is based on romantic speculation and inaccurate evolutionary claims, of which most are also based on Romance Biology, Scientism and Ideology driven within a Post-Fact society of fantasy and whim.

I even read recently from one group of perverts demanding that this “coywolf” become a listed and federally protected species claiming that this new species of wild canine is the result of “natural” events.

Odd isn’t it, that it makes perfect science sense that it is more likely that intermixing of different breeds of wild dogs is more often occurring due to increased populations forced into limited space. However, the environmentalists choose to believe the complete opposite, partly because doing so blames the existence of man for the cause of crossbreeding. These clowns state that because man destroys their habitat and kills off numbers of animals, it forces the males to wander great distances in search of any creature that will have sex with them. (If this were true it destroys any thoughts that this hybrid mixture should be considered as a viable species….but we can’t go there in this post-fact era.)

The puzzling hypocrisy exists when the environmentalists, who hate man’s existence, blames man for causing wild breeds of dogs to intermix and yet claim that the crossbreeding is a “natural” thing and thus needs protecting. I think this is a classic example of demanding it both ways.

It is likely that hours upon hours could be spent discussing the ins and outs of crossbreeding and how it should be considered, if at all, as a legitimate “new” species. However, if the presented information is true that in just the Northeast section of the country there are “more than a million” mixed breed wild dogs roaming our countryside, who in their right mind would, with a straight face, consider seeking protection of the species?

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Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) Variation of Wolves ( Canis lupus ) in Southeast Alaska and Comparison with Wolves, Dogs, and Coyotes in North America

Abstract

There is considerable interest in the genetics of wolves (Canis lupus) because of their close relationship to domestic dogs(C. familiaris) and the need for informed conservation and management. This includes wolf populations in Southeast Alaska for which we determined genotypes of 305 wolves at 173 662 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci. After removal of invariant and linked SNP, 123 801 SNP were used to quantify genetic differentiation of wolves in Southeast Alaska and wolves, coyotes (C. latrans), and dogs from other areas in North America. There is differentiation of SNP allele frequencies between the species (wolves, coyotes, and dogs), although differentiation is relatively low between some wolf and coyote populations. There are varying levels of differentiation among populations of wolves, including low differentiation of wolves in interior Alaska, British Columbia, and the northern US Rocky Mountains. There is considerable differentiation of SNP allele frequencies of wolves in Southeast Alaska from wolves in other areas. However, wolves in Southeast Alaska are not a genetically homogeneous group and there are comparable levels of genetic differentiation among areas within Southeast Alaska and between Southeast Alaska and other geographic areas. SNP variation and other genetic data are discussed regarding taxonomy and management.

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A Dog is a Dog, is a Dog Unless It’s an Agenda

*Editor’s Notes* On or about the 17th of March, 2012 an article appeared in The Oregonian (I found a copy here.). The article was in reference to a dead dog found in northeast Oregon, weighing 97 pounds. Officials found the need to necropsy the beast and send for DNA testing to determine what kind of a dog it was. For those who are already lost in this conversation, they wanted to determine if it was a preciously, federally protected wolf, while at the same time attempt to determine if it was murdered by a human(s).

Approximately three days later, Jim Beers, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, responded to that article with a letter of his own. That letter is published below.

Beers writes: “Wolf “biologists”, government bureaucrats, University professors (bought and paid for by government grants), and the “DNA Analysts” can set those chromosome definitions and limits ANYWHERE convenient. Want 5 “species”? No problem. Want 50 “species”? Just a minute, we can do that. It is “science” truly worthy of the “noble animal” tripe and hidden agendas of the entire wolf debacle.”

As has become the practice, the wolf, which is nothing more than just another dog, has been exalted to a level of nothing less than a Greek god or goddess. The same can also be said of the common coyote, again nothing more than a dog. All family pets are placed in a category all unto themselves, at times receiving better care than thousands of human Americans.

Much of the tragedy in all of this comes from the government-authorized setting of “chromosome definitions and limits” in order to fulfill political agendas.

While reading Mr. Beer’s piece, bear in mind how what he says has implications in where you live. Are there those suggesting and proposing the existence of yet another “species” of wolf, i.e. dog? Is your state protecting wild canines as though they were some “sacred” animal and yet the only way to tell the difference between all of these dogs is via DNA tests?

Consider the inanity of it all.

Here is Jim Beer’s letter:

It was with wry amusement that I (a retired federal wildlife biologist living in Minnesota) read in your paper about that 97 lb. “animal” found dead in the Grande Ronde Valley. To think that after decades of hoopla about how “important” wolves are; this “animal” in the custody of the august “professionals” of both the Oregon State Police and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife must be examined for DNA “analysis” (questionable at best) to determine if it is A. a dog, or B. a coyote, or C. a wolf, or D. a dog/coyote cross, or E. a dog/wolf cross, or F. a wolf/coyote cross, or G. a (this gets too confusing).

But wait, if all those Eastern and Midwestern cougar sightings of the past 30 years are any indication perhaps the “experts” in government will explain that dingoes or jackals (each of which enjoy “fertile unions” with dogs, coyotes, wolves and any of the infinite crosses therefrom) either A. escaped from a zoo, or B. were “pets” released by un-(federally)regulated pet owners to consummate an affair with some poor “Native” wolf or coyote or even some unsuspecting “Invasive” dog one evening. I wait with baited breath for their “findings”!

Truth be known, the classic understanding of animal “Species” is a group of animals that successfully interbreed and produce fertile offspring with characteristics of each parent. The difference between wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and (all) dogs is therefore the same as the difference between Chows, Chihuahuas, Dobermans, and Wolfhounds. That one (the wolf) is so “important” that killing one carries government sanction and that its destruction (humans, cattle, dogs, big game, etc.) must be endured by powerless rural folk is bad enough (actually monumentally bad): that this sacred wild and destructive animal can “only” be identified by “DNA analysis” completes the fairy-tale nature of the entire wolf “science” treated like some “Law of Physics”.

Wolf “biologists”, government bureaucrats, University professors (bought and paid for by government grants), and the “DNA Analysts” can set those chromosome definitions and limits ANYWHERE convenient. Want 5 “species”? No problem. Want 50 “species”? Just a minute, we can do that. It is “science” truly worthy of the “noble animal” tripe and hidden agendas of the entire wolf debacle.

I am reminded of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. If the “experts” find that some poor bumpkin is responsible for the demise of the “97 lb. animal” that only some secret laboratory can declare what it is; he will wind up like Alice in “Wonderland”. When the Queen cries “off with her head” and poor Alice mentions that she hasn’t been found guilty, the Queen (i.e. government) simply says, “first the sentence and then the verdict.”

Did Lewis Carroll write The Endangered Species Act?

Jim Beers

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