Rocky Barker: McCain grizzly earmark story raises questions on his focus

Senator McCain doesn’t like “earmarked” congressional spending for special local projects. There is one story he has told for a long time about this kind of “waste.” It’s that of the Montana grizzly bear DNA study. It always gets a great laugh, generates some outrage, and he convinces many of his point of view.

Anyone who knows the slightest about the grizzly DNA project knows, however, that his interpretation of the study is entirely wrong.

Rocky Barker writes about it today in his blog, “Letters to the West”.

McCain grizzly earmark story raises questions on his focus. Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman






  1. Chuck Parker Avatar
    Chuck Parker

    For $50,000–not $5 million–I’ll give you a thorough review on “Patterns of Grizzly Bear Mortality In The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem: 1975-2005” that would provide data that precludes delisting grizzly bears. You don’t need a degree in rocket science to see that grizzly habitat is shrinking, and bear mortality is increasing, as subdivisions and the human population increase. Less grizzly habitat + more bear mortality = less grizzlies.

    Are there more miles of taxpayer funded US Forest Service logging roads now than in 1975, or less miles of logging roads? Are there more miles of legal & illegal ORV “trails” now than in 1975, or less miles? Are there more subdivisions and trophy homes in grizzly habitat, or less? What’s the trend? Duh.

    Rocky Barker says, “The research McCain was attacking was really designed to help managers count how many grizzlies there are roaming around Montana. That’s pretty important to people who like or hate grizzlies because without a good count the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will never be able to remove them from the protection of the Endangered Species Act.”

    Why would people who like grizzlies want them removed from the Endangered Species Act? So there can be more logging, drilling, and ORV use in what used to be grizzly bear habitat? So Montana can have a legal hunting season on grizzlies? So ranchers can put more sheep and cattle on public lands and then kill grizzlies that prey on dim-witted domestic livestock? Hello? Hello? Hello?

    Giving the US Fish & Wildlife Service $5 million to delist grizzlies is like giving the US Fish & Wildlife Service $5 million to delist wolves–all in favor say, “aye.”

  2. Monty Avatar

    Of course McCain does not mention the billions that is being “shoveled” into the Iraq “Rathole”. The more I learn about McCain and his “dis-infornmation campaign” where-in he will say anthing to get elected the less respect I have for him. Unfortunately, it looks like he may win the election as “greed” sells better than “conservation”.

  3. Dick Avatar

    It’s OK to spend trillions in Iraq, but any money for science should be questioned, according to McCain, who doesn’t understand wildlife biology. DNA studies on populations of animals that are under stress (bears in Montana) are important. You must know the genetic relatedness between the different populations of a species, for management decisions. As populations of a species decline, inbreeding becomes one of the biggest threats to the survival of that species. This is money for basic science. The lack of understanding of basic science by the politicians, of both parties, is shameful.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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