Oh facts, they are so pesky and get in the way of agenda’s. It seems Montana FWP is not happy with MSU’s Dr. Creel.
He published a study in September 2010 about their “precious wolf hunt”, which states the proposed hunt could be far deadlier then the fish and game agency was selling to the public. In fact the hunt could have cut the Montana wolf population in half, in just one hunting season.
Study: Hunt would halve Montana wolf population
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:30 pm
By MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Writer
BILLINGS (AP) — A scientific study released Wednesday said a proposed hunt for gray wolves in the Northern Rockies would cut the endangered species’ population in Montana by roughly half during a single season.
The study from two Montana State University ecologists raised questions about claims that the wolves could easily withstand hunts proposed this fall in Montana and Idaho. The peer-reviewed report was published online by the Public Library of Science.
Wolves in the Northern Rockies were returned to the endangered species list last month under a federal court order, but state officials still want permission to hold the public hunts.
The MSU study found that Montana stands to lose approximately 50 percent of its wolves under a proposal submitted in mid-September to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“The data suggest that a sustainable harvest can be developed. But the thresholds identified (in Montana) appear to be above a sustainable level,” said MSU ecologist Scott Creel, one of the study’s authors.
Wildlife officials in Montana and Idaho said they were not swayed by the MSU study and characterized it as speculative. They added that even if wolf populations get into trouble, they could simply adjust future quota levels to compensate.
State and federal wildlife managers have said repeatedly that about 30 percent of a wolf population can be killed and it still will bounce back the following year.
After analyzing 21 studies of North American wolf populations by government and academic researchers, Creel and colleague Jay Rotella estimated the figure for the Northern Rockies would be much lower, at 22 percent. The study reached the new estimate by using a computer model that compared Montana’s proposed hunting season to how wolf populations have responded to human-caused killings in the past.
The lower estimate means wildlife managers using the old number could inadvertently set wolf quotas too high, threatening the species’ recovery after two decades and more than $30 million spent on restoration efforts.
Montana wants a hunting quota of 186 wolves, on top of 145 wolves that the state expects to be killed this year by wildlife agents responding to attacks on livestock.
Idaho also is seeking a hunt, but its proposed quota has not been released so the potential impact was not measured in the study.
Idaho and Montana had a combined minimum population of 1,367 wolves at the end of 2009. Montana wants to pare back its wolf population by 15 percent this year, while Idaho has a long-term objective of 41 percent fewer wolves.
About 340 wolves live in neighboring states, primarily in Wyoming, but also in Oregon and Washington. No hunts are proposed in those states.
“We understand that if we tried to reduce the population at the same rate for years, it wouldn’t work,” said Jim Unsworth with the Idaho Fish and Game Department. “But that’s not what any of us have proposed.”
“If we’re too heavy with harvest, we can back off,” he added.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wolf biologist Carolyn Sime said the MSU study was flawed because it failed to account for wolf pups born in the spring. She said that failure overestimated the impacts of hunting.
Creel responded that his model used an established method to measure population changes between the same day from one year and the next, rendering irrelevant any interim spikes caused by spring births.
A Canadian wolf researcher with a newly published study on the same topic said Wednesday that he reached a conclusion similar to Creel: past research apparently underestimated the impacts human-caused mortality can have on wolves in the Northern Rockies.
Prior assumptions of hunting impacts were based largely on work done in the deep wilderness of Alaska and Canada, said Dennis Murray, a biologist with Trent University in Peterborough and that study’s lead author. Many wolf packs in the Northern Rockies live in proximity to inhabited areas — where they are more likely to be shot for attacking livestock or run over when crossing a highway.
“Based on (the MSU) analysis and our analysis, the high rates of mortality that have occurred so far are probably not sustainable over the long-term. That could curtail population growth and, in fact, might cause populations to decline substantially,” Murray said.The study was based on 22 years of data from more than 700 wolves in the Northern Rockies, appears in the November issue of Biological Conservation. Co-authors included four government wolf biologists from Idaho, Yellowstone National Park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
They did not offer a sustainable harvest figure comparable to Creel’s 22 percent.”
Here’s the complete study by Scott Creel and Jay Rotella in pdf form:
Meta-Analysis of Relationships Between Human Offtake, Total Mortality and Population Dynamics of Gray Wolves…
Apparently Montana FWP has been steaming about the study. It makes them look bad, in my opinion and shows their true motivation concerning the proposed wolf hunt. As in seriously reducing Montana’s wolf population very quickly.
Of course this is not news to any of us in the grass-roots wolf resistance movement. We’ve been ringing the alarm bell for quite some time.
Montana FWP let it be known they were going to take their toys and go home if MSU didn’t follow the party line in the future.
FWP warns MSU over scientist’s wolf study
Posted: Sunday, December 5, 2010 12:15 am | Updated: 11:26 pm, Sat Dec 4, 2010.
By GAIL SCHONTZLER Chronicle Staff Writer
A top official at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has warned Montana State University’s president that the agency may have to end all cooperation with the university after an MSU scientist’s study challenged the state’s proposed wolf hunt.
Dave Risley, administrator of’FWP’s fish and wildlife division in Helena, wrote an Oct. 14 letter to MSU President Waded Cruzado saying that FWP has worked closely with MSU for more than 60 years, but the relationship had been “marred by a pattern of conflict” over several years with Scott Creel, an MSU scientist who studies elk and wolves.
“By writing this letter, we hope to make you aware of this situation before the only recourse is to permanently and completely dissolve the financial and intellectual relationship between FWP and MSU,” Risley wrote.
Risley’s letter added that FWP doesn’t want to go that route because both institutions have a lot to gain from a strong, collaborative working relationship. He suggested “a very simple solution” was to ensure both staffs are at least trying to collaborate, and he offered to meet with Cruzado.
MSU released FWP’s letter at the request of the Chronicle, which argued it is a public document. At the same time, MSU made public Cruzado’s Nov. 22 letter responding to Risley.
Cruzado offered to hold a one-day workshop between MSU faculty and administrators and FWP staff, with a mutually respected facilitator.
“Jointly, we could develop a stronger relationship based on better understanding of the objectives and constraints under which FWP operates,” Cruzado wrote to FWP, “as well as a better understanding of the role of academic scientists at a land-grant university.”
Asked if she saw FWP’s letter as a threat to academic freedom — the principle that universities should be able to present ideas, even if they’re unpopular — Cruzado said no.
“I welcome the letter as an opportunity to clarify our roles,” Cruzado said, “and strengthen collaboration with Fish & Wildlife.”
Cruzado’s letter to Risley also noted that Creel’s studies used “previously published data collected in part by FWP biologists … and reached conclusions differing from what you believe are warranted by the data.”
FWP’s published information is available for anyone to use.
“The university feels Dr. Creel’s research was appropriate and he was doing what a scientist is expected to do,” Tracy Ellig, MSU news director, said. “At the same time, we want to work with FWP. We’d like to focus on the issues and not the individuals.
“We don’t have any concerns with (Creel’s) research,” Ellig said. “It was peer-reviewed. It appeared in the scientific literature. It used previously published public data and … the way he arrived at his conclusions was transparent. Other scientists could either back it up or disagree with it.”
In a phone interview this week, Risley sounded conciliatory. He said FWP wasn’t objecting to Creel’s conclusions, but felt Creel had taken selected parts of FWP’s data without understanding it and didn’t work with FWP to avoid mistaken assumptions.
“I do think you owe it to the original researcher to consult about the interpretation of their data,” Risley said.
“We wanted to get the attention of the university, of the president,” Risley said. “In no way, shape or form would we want to stifle academic freedom. We were just looking for professional integrity.”
Risley said his letter to Cruzado was not intended to threaten the university. He said his previous letter of complaint to Creel’s department head received no response.
Risley said he felt “like when a kid throws a rock at a window” to get someone’s attention and inadvertently “breaks the window.” He said it had gone further than he expected. “I didn’t expect to get a call from the Chronicle,” he said. “We wanted to get it to their attention and see some action.”
Risley said he was pleased with Cruzado’s response and confident “we can put this behind us and move forward.”
Study examined wolves’ sustainability
Creel, 48, a tenured MSU ecology professor, studies the Greater Yellowstone’s wolves and elk, as well as predators in Africa. Creel is widely known in Bozeman as a top runner and nine-time winner of the 20-mile Ridge Run.
On Sept. 29, Creel and MSU colleague Jay Rotella published a scientific study which the Associated Press reported on under the headline “Study: Hunt would halve Montana wolf population.”
The study, published online by the Public Library of Science, said Montana could lose roughly 50 percent of its wolves under a hunting proposal submitted by FWP to the federal government.
The AP reported that while state and federal wildlife managers contend 30 percent of a wolf population could be killed and it would still bounce back the following year, Creel’s analysis said the percentage that could be killed and still have a sustainable wolf population was actually lower, 22 percent.
Creel said the study used a computer model to analyze data from 21 studies of wolves throughout North America. The FWP data he used on Montana wolves had been published in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009 annual report.
“The data say what the data say,” Creel said. “The message they reveal may be inconvenient, but it’s important to get the information out there and hope to have influence on policy.”
The Associated Press story included comments from a FWP biologist, who said Creel’s study was flawed because it failed to consider the birth of wolf pups in the spring, and from a Canadian wolf researcher at Trent University, Dennis Murray, who reached results similar to Creel’s.
‘Good science and the public interest’
Risley’s letter to MSU cited conflicts with Creel going back several years. He wrote that in 2006, FWP permanently severed its relationship with Creel and that earlier this year, Creel had accused FWP staff of unethical conduct.
Creel declined to discuss details about those charges, but said parts of FWP’s letter were “misleading to flatly incorrect.”
The news story on Creel’s latest study brought sharp reaction from some readers who described wolves as “monsters” and accused Creel of being be pro-wolf.
Creel said that after a 2007 study, he was accused of having an anti-wolf agenda. That study found wolves have a greater impact on elk, beyond the numbers they directly killed. It found that pressure from wolves meant cow elk had a harder time getting enough nutrition though the winter to maintain pregnancies and so fewer calves were being born. FWP researchers did not agree with his conclusions, Creel said.
Creel said he had received messages of support from his bosses at MSU.
“Many of my colleagues and students at MSU have good, productive relationships with wildlife managers and biologists at FWP, and Mr. Risley’s letter suggests that FWP will abandon these efforts if MSU does not deal with me in some way,” Creel wrote to the Chronicle.
“I am confident in the support of my department head, dean, provost and president, so I am not concerned for myself, but I would hate to see this spill over to affect others.”
Marvin Lansverk, MSU Faculty Senate chair, said he didn’t have many details about the dispute, but if FWP is calling for more communication, that would be fine.
If FWP scientists disagree with Creel’s conclusions, Lansverk said, “They have the right and obligation to respond with publications of their own.”
However, Lansverk said, “If an administrator disagrees with scientific results, I think it would be inappropriate and detrimental to good science and the public interest to try to intervene or suppress publication of research or to put pressure on an institution to stop doing what universities do. I hope that’s not what FWP is trying to do.”
Risley, hired in August 2009 after 30 years with Ohio’s wildlife agency, is in charge of fisheries, wildlife, law enforcement, communications and education. He reports to FWP Deputy Director Art Noonan, a Butte legislator and former Democratic Party executive director, and to Joe Maurier, FWP director and former college roommate of Gov. Brian Schweitzer.”
So there you have it folks, the ugly truth. Apparently Montana FWP doesn’t like throughly researched, transparent scientific studies that differ from their politically driven conclusions on wolves.
There is no justification to slaughter/hunt wolves for profit. Killing half the wolf population every year or even a third or any number will disrupt the social fabric of pack life. A wolf is a wolf is a wolf seems to be the attitude of fish and game agencies. Oh we’ll just kill off large numbers of them every year and they’ll just make more wolves. No consideration given to the highly social nature of these intelligent animals, their family life, the pain and suffering hunts would and did cause. AND no mention of the shadow wolf hunts that are carried out against wolves every year by Wildlife Services for agribusiness.
These are the people we are supposed to entrust the care of wolves too? What a laugh!!
Please write to Montana FWP concerning their strong-arm tactics against MSU and Dr. Creel. Also support MSU President Cruzado.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM-5:00 PM
Phone: (406) 444-2535
Fax: (406) 444-4952
Directors Office (406)444-3186