Friday, November 16, 2007

Mexican wolves: The full truth

On his blog, Ralph Maughan "reports" that the
number of elk in the part of New Mexico where the
Mexican wolves have become reestablished has
Note that while Dr. Maughan is a specialist in
natural resource and environmental policies and
politics, he is not a biologist. Like many
people involved with policies and politics who
have an agenda to push, it is convenient to tell
only part of the story, allowing it to pass for the full truth.

Dr. Maughn "reported" that the number of elk in
the Mexican wolf restoration program area has
increased and that the number of wolves is
"trivial — only 59 in the entire recovery area..."

I am not a biologist either, but I believe in
telling the full story if I'm going to tell any story at all. So, I replied:

1. The method used to count elk this time is
different from the method used before. While it
is *possible* that the number of elk has actually
increased, your readers should be aware it is
also possible that rather the efficiency of
counting has increased, and therefore that there
may in fact be fewer elk than in prior years.

2. The number of wolves is not trivial - it is
merely unknown. There are 59 *collared* wolves in
the wolf recovery area. There are an unknown
number of uncollared wolves. Your readers should
be aware that it is *possible* that the wolf
restoration program is wildly successful in terms
of numbers of wolves in the wild.

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