David Allen’s Continued Attacks on Science and Wolves

David Allen of Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s recent letter to Bob Ream—chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission—is a further example of Mr. Allen’s war on science and wolves.  Though craftily written, his continued evoking of “science” reminds me of the uber patriots we frequently see who scream “love of country” while at the same time refusing to pay taxes to support the very freedoms and benefits they enjoy.  Collectively they repeatedly demonstrate their dedicated fondness for a word they neither understand nor support. 

 

FWP commission chairman Bob Ream said he hopes wolves can ultimately be managed like mountains lions, a predator he said outnumbers wolves by four to five times and is responsible for just as much killing of game. He noted there is comparatively little opposition to hunting lions and little call to significantly increase hunting of that animal.
 
"There are heck of a lot of people who hate wolves or love wolves," Ream said. "We do take public input seriously. This is a tough issue. This is not easy. It has become so polarized." 
 
In the second line of the letter Mr. Allen asserts that the wolf hunts are “necessary.”  Not only that but implies by the use of the phrase “[a]s you know” that Dr. Ream has that understanding as well.  The above quote from Dr. Ream implies that the escalation of wolf control is driven more by public opinion than science—public opinion that Mr. Allen has been instrumental in influencing in the absence of supporting science.  (It is interesting that Mr. Allen’s missive was written less than a week after The Great Falls Tribune ran a story entitled A trophy season: Elk hunters enjoy record success along the Front)
 
Scientists predict that the loss of the collared wolves will have a big impact on both the park's research project and numerous other independent studies investigating a variety of issues, such as elk management and ecology. The collars collect data intended to help wildlife managers better understand wolf behavior, particularly the canids' effect on elk. And unless a wolf is wearing a collar, researchers say they can't be sure that it is an animal that uses the park. The killings are "very unfortunate, because of the harm it does to the research," says Bob Ream, a retired wolf biologist from the University of Montana, and chair of the state's Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission, which oversees the hunts. "I would like to think this was not done intentionally." Intentional or not, Smith notes that of the killed wolves that were known to have used the park, an estimated 70% were wearing collars.
 
Mr. Allen continues by saying that there is no science or rationale for a “no hunt” zone surrounding the Park.  Really?  Here again Mr. Allen needs to see what Dr. Ream is saying about this and should understand that “research” is another word for science.  In addition, this clearly demonstrates that Mr. Allen or his advisors might not want to know what science might actually have to say about the need to control wolves or not.  
 

Further, there is an authenticity factor here. Those who are “deep conservationists” have generally worked with scientists in some capacity and would therefore understand how important these study animals are and defend them.  In the abstract it is easy to take a “so what” attitude—as Mr. Allen has—about the work of scientists and not realize the effort that goes into capturing and collaring study animals.  I worked on deer myself and used to have nightmares about losing study animals and the implications that would have for my experimental design and my ability to even answer the scientific questions I was posing.
 
Mr. Allen’s letter underscores several things.  First, he does not understand or respect science and is driven much more by his transparent hatred of wolves.   Second, it exhibits a large measure of hypocrisy in his calling out of other groups using this for fundraising when he is doing exactly the same thing through a public letter on his blog.  And lastly, this once again underscores Mr. Allen’s role with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and how he is little qualified by background or standing to guide this organization.  
 
And, Mr. Allen, about your closing salutation: If your comments were submitted respectfully and with awareness of the players you would have addressed the chairman as Dr. Ream rather than Mr. Ream.  Bob has an earned PhD in science and should be recognized for that achievement.  

 

4 Responses to David Allen’s Continued Attacks on Science and Wolves

  1. Kristi says:

    Very well explained, Bob.  Last year RMEF "donated" $50,000 to MFWP to aid in the management of wolves.  I asked MFWP what that money could be used for.  I was told it could be used to pay for additional tools to be implemented in managing wolves.  I asked, like Wildlife Services?  Yes was the response.  I wondered if I offered $51,000 would they take it to NOT manage wolves.   Mr. Allen has ZERO concept of science.  I would like to hear from some hunters in RMEF who do not hunt predators or have no interest in hunting wolves.  Where are those hunters?   We watched a F& W employee during a public comment meeting break down in front of an audience and his Board when discussing the killing of a pack of wolves in WA.  He knew it was wrong but the political/special interest pressure (in ths case the Stevens County Stockgrowers Assoc. and the fact that the rancher in question lived next door to a state representative who is a rancher) was forcing the wildlife agency to take drastic steps in dealing with this pack of wolves.   The pack was killed due to that pressure.   The money behind wolf management influences decisions that are against what many Fish and Wildlife department commissioners know to be true, what they studied in college, from their own research.  They know the science, they know BS from anti-wolf hunters and their organizations but due to political pressure and the money behind wildlife (wolf) management they have to compromise everything they know and give in to the anti-wolf groups.   Why not save states money and just get rid of their biologists?  Many are ignored anyway, as in WI and seemingly WA.  If wildlife departments could use the science, research and studies to make their decisions that would remove all of the controversy.  I think wildlife departments want to do the right thing, they just aren't allowed to because of groups like RMEF, Big Game Forever, Safari Club Int'l and various livestock growing groups who are behind the governors of wolf states.   Wolf management has very little to do with the wolves themselves (except for them being on the receiving end of bullets or arrows or poisons) but has a lot to do with people.  THAT is the real problem.

  2. Bob M says:

    As noted, whether the collared wolves were targeted, the outcome is disastrous. Elk hunters should be livid, and pressuring groups like RMEF to help stop the losses of study animals. As Kristi notes in her comment, it's not about the wolves, it's about people, and many of them are killing their own interests, if they are elk hunters, too. 
     
     
    Building a mechanistic understanding of predation with GPS-based movement data
    Evelyn Merrill et al., Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Biology) 2010

    "Quantifying kill rates and sources of variation in kill rates remains an important challenge in linking predators to their prey. We address current approaches to using global positioning system (GPS)-based movement data for quantifying key predation components of large carnivores. We review approaches to identify kill sites from GPS movement data as a means to estimate kill rates and address advantages of using GPS-based data over past approaches."

    Are hunters so afraid that tree-huggers are correct that wolves do not have major impact on cervids, that hunters are willing to kill scientific studies, even though the studies might support their position that wolves are devastating elk and deer? Is the problem that hunters know the cervids are doing just fine, and that hatred of wolves overrides any sense of probity?

    With hunters at about 6% of the US population, anti-hunters at 15%, the MSNBC National Poll at 85-13 against wolf hunting in the National Park, and the U of Wyoming poll about the reverse result of the National Poll, it appears that the best chance to keep local control is to let the scientists complete their studies and prove that the wolves devastate wildlife–if that's what the science shows. 

     

  3. Pete Braun says:

    David Allen should do us all a favor and abandon RMEF. Go back to NASCAR, you wanker!

  4. Rosemary Lowe says:

    The wolf slaughter has nothing to do with understanding science or not. It has to do with a long-held, unenlightened good o'l boy network of wildlife killers who understand nothing about Nature, even though they claim to. Wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, bears and other native animals have far more wisdom and knowledge of the natural world than any of these Animal Serial Killers. Let's be honest, there are no "good" hunters/trappers–they're all what they are: Human Cowards, who like to kill those who cannot fight back.

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