Apparent Increase In Montana’s Wolf Population Is Based On Fabricated Numbers
By Jay Mallonee
Synopsis: Populations of living organisms change over time. To understand how, scientists measure four basic components expressed by populations: births (b), deaths (d), immigration (i, join a population), and emigration (e, leave a population). The overall equation is: growth rate = (i – e) + (b – d).
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is responsible for wolf management, including public hunts, and oversees how the wolf population changes from year to year. They claim that their methods are based in science, but one official has stated that no scientific protocols have been used to collect their data. This shows in FWP’s annual reports in which data are collected in a haphazard manner, making it difficult to draw relevant conclusions about Montana’s wolf population. Immigration numbers are never measured, yet are assumed in the annual reports and used to calculate the minimum number of wolves each year, or year-end totals. Over the last nine years, including 24 unverified wolves that supposedly emigrated, this represents 762 unaccounted for wolves: an average 21.4 percent error in minimum population numbers each year. Intentional or not, at least immigration numbers are fabricated and mean nothing scientifically. Minimum population numbers, therefore, are annual claims made by FWP, because they cannot be verified. This is important because these year-end numbers are used to make management decisions about wolves. For example, FWP has stated in their annual report that the number of wolves in 2011 is a 15 percent increase from 2010. However, this increase is well within the error established in FWP’s numbers. In addition, a wildlife official stated that none of the wolf counts were complete. Therefore, FWP cannot know if an increase occurred because their database is so inaccurate. When the unverified wolf counts are removed from the year-end totals, the result is a difference of 25 wolves between 2010 and 2011. According to FWP numbers, it would take 98 wolves to achieve 15 percent of the 2011 year-end total. Therefore, the claimed 15 percent increase came from the unverified immigration numbers. Regardless, FWP has used this assertion to justify an increased quota for the 2012 hunt. More importantly, the pattern of fabricated data represented in the 2011 annual report is consistent with previous years.
The data collected by FWP is so incomplete and without basis in science that we could ask, “What numbers do they provide the federal government to determine if wolves should be on the endangered species list or not?
Pamphlet: Courtesy Jay Mallonee
Posted in: Biodiversity, Montana wolves, Wolf Wars
Tags: Jay Mallonee, Kalispell Montana, The Truth About Wolves, Montana wolf numbers? , Montana FWP