Science, Relationships and Wolf Policy

Roger Pielke Jr. had this interesting post about a recent dust-up between an individual (or more?) at Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and a researcher (or more?) at Montana State University.

A couple of points from me..

1) I really like the PLOS publication -free to the world- with open comments. I believe that all publications based on government funded research should be free.
2) It’s hard to have good policies, fully illuminated by open discussion, when people have bad relationships.
3) If you are a researcher studying something that resource managers do, it would generally (for those of you who don’t have bad relationships with managers) be a courtesy to give them a heads up before you publish something that questions what they are doing, and, of course,
4) There is a thought in the science policy literature that more science doesn’t really solve “hot” values disputes. In Pielke’s “Honest Broker” book, he calls this “abortion politics.” See this review of his book for a summary. But Roger isn’t the only researcher to make this observation.

2 thoughts on “Science, Relationships and Wolf Policy”

  1. Here’s some additional information that must be pointed out in respect to this blog post, especially point #3: “If you are a researcher studying something that resource managers do, it would generally (for those of you who don’t have bad relationships with managers) be a courtesy to give them a heads up before you publish something that questions what they are doing.”

    Here’s what’s taken place in Montana.

    Governor Schweitzer fired long-time and well-respect FWP director Jeff Hagener.

    Governor Schweitzer replaced Hagener with Joe Maurier, who was Schweitzer’s old college roommate. One of Maurier’s first actions was to immediately and without public input, reorganize the agency.

    Next as George Ochenski (one of the greatest advocates in history for Montana’s clean water, air, forests, public process) pointed out in a column (http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/troubling-pattern/Content?oid=1156881):

    “Schweitzer then tossed a political patronage position as FWP Deputy Director to Art Noonan, a Butte Democratic operative who doesn’t hunt and hasn’t had a fishing license in 20 years. Adding to the mess, Maurier just hired an Ohio man [Dave Risley] to be head of the newly created Fish and Wildlife Division, as reported this weekend in a lengthy story by the Lee Newspaper’s Jennifer McKee. Ohio has only whitetail deer as big game, counts “squirrels and rabbits” as game animals, and has no wild trout.

    The governor also denounced former FWP Director Hagener, alleging Hagener had refused to reorganize the agency. Hagener, who had decided to ‘take the high road’ and not comment on the significant changes in his former department, spoke out to say the governor had never made any such request to him.”

    So now this October Risley sends his letter to Montana State University’s president basically threatening Creel (an MSU tenured professor) and warning that MT FWP might have to end 60 years worth of cooperation with MSU following the release of the Creel’s scientific study and research, which called into question Montana’s proposed wolf hunt.

    Given these facts, the chain of events and some pretty clear examples of cronyism at place between Gov Schweitzer and some of the new FWP leadership I fail to see what a little heads up from a researcher would do. Thanks.

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  2. Matthew, I used the term “generally.” this is a pretty specific situation. but it does seem to me to be a potentially teachable moment for researchers in situations without existing bad blood, or even with borderline bad blood, as opposed to this situation which seems pretty extreme.

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