January 29, 2023

Wildlife Population Guessing

Outdoor Life online has an article that attempts to help explain how wildlife managers manipulate animal populations. In actuality, it’s more about the tools, i.e. models, that are used to “predict” future populations. These “predictions” are used to make decisions based on management goals for each state. You can visit the site and see the graphs and explanations that are not all that complicated to understand.

However, what might be complicated is the last paragraph in the article that states: “It is important to note that these projections occur in what is called a “closed’ system, “where values are assumed to be constant. Any outdoorsman can tell you that nature is never constant. However, growth curves still serve an integral function in projecting future harvestable populations and are just one of many tools that biologists use to conserve and manage habitat and wildlife.”

It’s difficult to argue with the realities of the forests. What should be taken away from this is that using tools designed to work within a “closed system” results in inaccurate science. In the real forests, if managers fail to stay on top of the myriad of changing environmental and biological influences, the lack of accuracy can soon get out of hand and become ultimately useless.

It would then seem reasonable to require over a prescribed amount of time, to fall back to the old 1, 2, 3, 4…counting of wildlife to get your algorithms back on track.