April 24, 2017

Wolves Cannot be a Keystone Predator And Not Have an Effect on Ungulates

wolvestwoI recently received a copy of a brand new article that had been published in Muley Crazy Magazine, that was written by Dr. Charles Kay. The title of the article is, “Keystone Predation and Trophic Cascades.” What a brilliant piece of work, I must say. Most brilliant because not only does Kay simply and effectively explain what a keystone predator is, along with trophic cascade, but points out the overuse, perhaps ignorantly and incorrectly, of the term “keystone predator.”

Kay explains in his article that many talk of how wolves are a keystone predator and have created a trophic cascade (more on this in a moment) wherever they are present. He references Yellowstone National Park as an example.

In explaining to readers what keystone predation and trophic cascade are, he used the example of sea otters, kelp forests and urchins along the northern California coast. There exists kelp forests, where, for one thing, small fish use to nourish themselves and seek a degree of protection from larger fish. Urchins eat kelp and sea otters eat urchins. This condition is explained by Kay as a “trophic pyramid”, with the otter on top and the kelp on the bottom.

Uncontrolled hunting by man killed off most of the otters, causing the urchin population to grow, which in turn destroyed much of the kelp forests and yes the disappearance of a fishery. With the efforts of humans, a few surviving otters were returned to the area and with ample prey, the urchin, the otters soon reestablish. With otters reducing the number of urchins, the kelp forests return and in turn the fishery came back also. Dr. Kay says this, “is what is called a cascading trophic effect, where what happens at one trophic level impacts what takes place at other trophic levels.”

In the case of the sea otter, Kay says that, “a keystone predator is a keystone predator only because predation causes a major reduction in the herbivore population, which then causes a major rebound in the associated plant community.”

So, then, is a wolf a keystone predator? By definition a keystone predator, like the sea otter, reduces its prey to levels that have a significant effect on that ecosystem. In my opinion, wolf advocates and others – Dr. Kay lists them: Media, public, judges – wrongly use the term “keystone” in order to make people believe that because it is KEYstone, the ecosystem could not survive without them. As Kay so aptly points out, the wolf sponsors can’t have it both ways; be a keystone predator and NOT reduce significantly its prey species. Since the beginning of the debate about wolves, prior to introduction, the clap trap was readily repeated that wolves will not have any significant impact on its prey species, i.e. deer, elk, moose. However, we are seeing the results of this “keystone” predator, where in places the wolf has roamed and flourished, prey populations have shrunk out of sight.

For decades, where the environmentalists have gone wrong, is their insistence that man was not factored into the role as a keystone predator. This is where Dr. Kay explains that while the sea otter, wolf, bear, mountain lion, etc. may be keystone predators, they are not necessarily THE keystone predator. That title is rightfully placed on the shoulders of man and has been there since the beginning of man’s existence on the planet.

Dr. Kay’s article goes to great lengths in explaining the history of the role of Native Americans as THE keystone predators. His work in establishing time lines, geographical locations and availability of wild game of Lewis and Clark and other explorers, shows where and in what abundance game animals existed and why. It’s not what our education institutions have taught us.

In one’s dishonest effort to protect any species of keystone predator, they cannot claim it to be a keystone predator, for the sake of placing importance and glorification, while at the same time making bold statements that these “keystone” predators will not have any measurable effect on the prey species and ecosystem. Simply by definition, this is ludicrous. It’s as ludicrous as thinking that man can somehow be removed from the entire equation and then everything will be nirvana.

Dr. Kay explains that in reality, if those humans who want Yellowstone National Park to be brought back to its, “natural condition”, then we, “simply need to add native people.”

Kay ends his article with this statement: “As a rule, carnivores did not kill and eat aboriginal people. Instead, aboriginal people killed and ate carnivores, especially bears, making them the ultimate keystone predator.”

George Monbiot: For more wonder, rewild the world

watchvideo150Isn’t it amazing that an environmental writer/activists, can gather together people in order to spread his idealistic propaganda that he has selectively taken from outcome-based science and presented it as something amazing. And the people listening probably are believing every word of it.

All old topics of rewilding, trophic cascades and far out myths of how wolves change the paths of streams, while leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

Trophic Cascades from Wolves to Grizzly Bears in Yellowstone?

Commentary by George Dovel

*Editor’s Note* The following is republished on this website with permission from the author. Please consider subscribing to The Outdoorsman. Information can be found in the right sidebar on the home page of this website. Thank you.

In Outdoorsman No. 51, the article on pages 8-9 Titled, “Top Wolf Scientist Charges Wolf Researchers Have Become Advocates Rather Than Scientists,” tells how Dr. L. David Mech charged that when wolf advocates began to claim the wolves’ presence was vital to restore healthy native ecosystems, a large number of university researchers invaded Yellowstone Park with the intention of proving trophic cascades caused by wolves.

Then Mech rebutted their claims with facts. He pointed out that the addition of 27 days of growing season in Yellowstone in recent years undoubtedly created healthier and taller willows and aspens and said there was no scientific evidence that wolves were responsible for creating more food for other predators.
He cited a study of 19 chapters of reviews concerning the ecological role of large carnivores, and said a research team concluded that scientists likely will never be able to predict cascading impacts on biodiversity other than prey. After a review by other wolf scientists, it was then accepted for publication in Biological Conservation on March 12, 2012.

But despite Mech’s pointed claims being published a year ago, a new study by William J. Ripple et al claims that wolves reducing the number of elk browsing on serviceberry provided more food for grizzly bears.

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The Ripple study said it measured 778 bear scats in 2007-2009 and determined from those measurements that the bear stools contained more fruit than were found in older studies before wolves were introduced.
The study also determined that the serviceberry bushes grow taller and have less browsing than were found in previous years. That, of course, correlated with the 27-day annual increase in the Yellowstone Park growing season provided by Mech.

The study published by the British Journal of Animal Ecology on July 29, 2013, included a series of unproven hypotheses that: elk and grizzly bears competed for berry-producing shrubs; after wolves were introduced there would be a decrease in elk and an increase in berry-producing shrubs; and the percent of fruit in the grizzly bear diet would be greater after wolves were introduced.

In reality, the killing or alleged relocation of elk by wolves resulted in far fewer elk available as prey for the grizzly bears when they emerged from hibernation and desperately needed the protein provided by elk prey until green-up occurred.

Such thinly veiled attempts to try to promote the trophic cascade myth illustrate how far science has been prostituted by the current crop of students and professors who lack the wisdom and integrity to be scientists.
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I urge Outdoorsman readers to donate any amount, no matter how small, to reimburse us for the cost of providing mailed copies to the elected officials and others who are directly involved in managing your wildlife.

Thank you,
George Dovel

David Mech: Alpha Wolf? Whatchu Talkin Bout?

I believe I posted this video quite some time ago but being that the subject has come up again….and again…..and again, I thought maybe it would help to post this video again as Dr. David Mech explains the myth, he created, about alpha male and alpha female wolves.

Oh, and heck! While you are at it, that is discovering truths, why not read Dr. Mech’s explanation about how he was wrong about trophic cascades and self regulating ecosystems. Just click this link.

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.

David Mech’s Damage Has Been Done – Too Late to Attempt Reconciliation

It seems some readers are agog today over an article discovered to have been published at Daily Kos, discussing supposed errors made in attempts to understand wolf and wildlife science, balance of nature and trophic cascades. At the center of this article is David Mech, father of the Wolf Wars; the man who identifies with wolf studies and the introduction or reintroduction, depending on one’s perspective, of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

It’s always vengeful bliss to say, “I told you so,” but it’s just as important to understand that Mech’s seeming admission that some things might not have been right, is really no victory for anyone accept David Mech and the environmental hijackers; those destroyers of people’s rights, property destruction and confiscation, and the subjection of citizens to reduced levels of public health and safety.

On examination of certain statements made by Mech, on the surface I can see him saying the things that I have been writing about for several years on the myths of balance of nature and self regulation of the ecosystems.

…..at the very least, scientists now disagree about whether wolf related behaviorally mediated trophic cascades in Yellowstone are really occurring………. At most, that well-publicized claim may not be correct at all.

…..ecologists (and particularly conservation biologists) do seem obsessed to the point of blindness with predator-induced trophic cascades.

Two decades later after observing wolves and moose and whitetail in Minnesota, Mech denounced the “balance of nature” writing in (National Wildlife 23(1):54-59) he said nature “far from always being ‘balanced,’ ratios of wolves and prey animals can fluctuate wildly – and sometimes catastrophically”.

Consider, if you will, what Mech said and the comment made by the author of this piece.

In an interview Mech states that scientific conclusions may “vary from outright dishonesty to not even knowing your bias is getting in the way,”. Because the meme of a trophic cascade in Yellowstone is so embedded in textbooks and popular media, it may never die, even if untrue.(Emboldening added)

It has taken how many decades of wolf study, combined with the numerous “scientific” papers written and distributed by Mech, perhaps walking around with a very large chip on his shoulder, swelling in his pride as being perceived as the wolf expert, approaching godliness in some people’s eyes, to decide to consult other scientists about wolves, or in general, balance of nature and trophic cascades?

It may appear that Mech has reached some scientific epiphany or maybe even remorse, complete with crocodile tears, so why should we be so thrilled at his comments about the dishonesty and corruption of money-starved, agenda-driven scientists who, “vary from outright dishonesty to not even knowing your bias is getting in the way?”

I would have to agree with the author of the article who states that this meme, that is the false idea that has spread throughout the scientific community full of wolf loving, money hungry faux scientists, may never die, is, in fact, the outcome that Mech intended from the beginning.

It’s a bit easier to put up a front indicating wrongdoing when the damage has been done and you’ve achieved the goals intended. Are we then to forgive and forget? I think not. The actions of Mech and many others, those being the products of his own work, i.e. his following, his own “outright dishonesty” and what I believe to be him knowing his own bias, have caused such extreme damage, to not only the scientific community but the loss of other wildlife, the spread of disease and the destruction caused to humanity through his deceitful work to cause division and strife among the people. How does one measure that value and establish accountability? Should we just dismiss it because this man is sticking his big toe in contriteness?

The damage has been done and it probably never will get corrected. The lessons learned here will also not be all good. One would like to think that the scientific community would take a deep breath and reassess this evil approach toward political ends shrouded in spurious science, but unfortunately it will stand as a proving ground in how to make money while lying and cheating the American public, regardless of the potential of damage that can be done. After all, the love of money is the root of all evil.

The U.S. Government, specifically the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, should never have given one man so much power and authority to carry out his work. To do wrong, the result of work going unchecked and unchallenged, some because Mech had the power to disregard information from others, for over 2 decades and THEN step forward indicating that things may have been wrong, isn’t something the American citizens should be so easily willing to accept. There is far more to Mech’s and other’s behavior over the years that goes a bit beyond “oops” and can rightly be described as a criminal enterprise.

As Christians we are taught to forgive, but that doesn’t mean we need forget. We must correct the wrong and seek rightful justice for the actions that go beyond scientific error. The American people will never get back into the scientific literature the truth about wildlife science, balance of nature and trophic cascades. It is my opinion that this “damage” was intentionally planned. It is also my opinion that as David Mech ages, he’s now, without much fear of punitive actions against him, willing to say what he may deem appropriate to save his own skin and play to the side of science and citizens who believed him wrong and corrupt from the beginning. We shouldn’t fall for it.

We should take his words and attach those words to the years of his work and then the task at hand for the activists is to begin a long and difficult task of reeducation. How do you counter the brainwashing being done by the most powerful?