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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

I am so pleased to bring you another column today from the ever thinking and insightful carnivore ecologist John Laundre..............John's treatise below is a highly logical and sound call for an end to State and Federal "research studies" that targets the killing of trophic carnivores in the name of research.................That so-called "research" to determine if carnivore reduction increases the population of the carnivores target prey.............John in no uncertain terms saids "enough is enough"-----"How many more studies, how many more predators do they have to kill to again demonstrate that killing predators to protect favored game species is worthless?".................And perhaps a change in this killing paradigm is on the horizon...............Last week, a federal court approved a groundbreaking settlement agreement between WildEarth Guardians and the federal wildlife killing program, Wildlife Services.............The settlement calls for this "KILLING AGENCY" to conduct new environmental analyses in Nevada and across the nation, cease reliance on an old, largely debunked analysis and end killing activities on certain public lands...........Let us see what the next step are but perhaps the efforts of Mr. Laundre and other like minded scientists might actually result in some positive change for our entire wildlife suite

If they had animal welfare committees….

by: biologist John Laundre

At most, if not all universities, there are animal welfare committees that oversee research that is to be conducted by researchers regarding techniques used to study animals. These committees are charged with making sure animals of these projects are not subjected to cruel practices in their treatment.Most universities have strict animal welfare protocols on the treatment of these animals and a study that does inflict pain or even death on these animals has to sufficiently justify why such pain or death is essential to the objectives of the study. Studies that are done for seemingly frivolous reasons, are unnecessary replications of past studies, or are of dubious scientific value are rarely approved.

Wolves hunting Elk

Now imagine I as a university researcher plan a study where I propose to purposely kill a bunch of large mammals, in the hundreds at times, to test a hypothesis. And that I propose to kill these animals by either trapping them in leg-hold traps and then shooting them in the head or by chasing them up a tree and shooting them from close range or setting poisons out that cause a slow and agonizing death. Further, I propose to kill these animals to test a hypothesis that has been tested in this way literally hundreds of times before and that has yielded the same results over and over again. My question is, would such a research protocol be approved by the animal welfare committee?

I know of no committee that would approve of such a radical project. It would, it should be deemed unusually cruel and a worthless repetition of past work. If I proposed a study where I would kill a bunch of bunnies to test if their removal from an area would make grass grow taller, I would be laughed out of the room!

But yet, such "studies" are conducted annually and without any oversite by state wildlife agencies. These agencies are constantly proposing and conducting pseudoscientific studies to supposedly determine the impact of predation by large mammalian predators on favored game species. And the way they propose to do this is to kill a bunch of predators and see if that favored species increases in numbers

Coyotes hunting deer

Every year the killing of hundreds of coyotes, wolves, bobcats and mountain lions is justified WITHOUT ANY animal welfare oversite, often without any public input. The latest state to propose to conduct such "experiments" is Nevada, funded by a state mandate that such money be dedicated to killing the predators!

These studies are often poorly designed and any "results" they get are of dubious scientific value. Further, those past studies that MAY have some scientific value have consistently demonstrated that killing predators does NOT increase favored game species numbers! There have been at least three "reviews" of the literature of well over a hundred such studies and in each of these reviews, the conclusion is the same. Killing predators has none to minimal effect on prey numbers…period. Thus it has been shown over and over again…it is a waste of time, money, and animals, to kill predators.

But the studies go on and on and on…. The state of New York, with credit to its agency, conducted a comparative study that did not involve killing coyotes to test if they had an effect on deer numbers. The result, not surprisingly, supported all those other studies, again no effect. However, this has not stopped Pennsylvania to propose a similar study, involving killing a bunch of coyotes to see if they can come up with different results than all the past studies, including from their neighboring stateDo they think coyotes, ecosystems, function differently across state lines? Reminds me of the definition of stupidity:doing something over and over again expecting different results.

Puma hunting Elk

How many more studies, how many more predators do they have to kill to again demonstrate that killing predators to protect favored game species is worthless? One has to question why they continue to conduct these killing operations, I hesitate to continue to call them "studies"?

It reminds me of Japan's vailed attempt to cast the killing of whales as somehow having scientific value when we all know it is for the commercial selling of them for food. Like the Japanese farce, these state game agencies are also engaged in a similar charade. They are not doing this for science, the science is clear. Their ultimate goal to just kill predators. And why? They do this to placate the 6% of the human population that hunts, to justify the spending of license dollars to "grow" more deer, more ducks, to hunt, even though they know it does not work! How can we continue to call this sound wildlife management?

Maybe it is time to subject the research efforts of game agencies to the same rigor that universities must face. After all, are they not public institutions? Maybe it is time that the other 94% of the population has a say in how game agencies manage or mismanage the wildlife that is owned by ALL. Maybe it is time to stop managing entire ecosystems just for hunters. Maybe it is time for a radical change

John W. Laundré has studied cougars for more than twenty years in both the United States and Mexico. As vice president of the Cougar Rewilding Foundation, he advocates the return of cougars to their former territorial range. John is also the co-author of the ground breaking LANDSCAPE OF FEAR paradigm which highlights how carnivores keep prey species at maximum health and fitness via invoking fear of death, and thus keeping them on the move and treading lightly on the land

pick up John's most recent book


Landmark Settlement Reins in Rogue Federal Wildlife Killing Program
Killing Stops on Over Six Million Acres of Our Public Lands 


Bill said...

John's essay needs to be distributed as widely as is humanly possible and most especially to that 6% who are hunters, trappers, etc.

Rick Meril said...

Bill,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,agreed and John is trying to get that accomplished