The authors of the Wildlife News encourage thoughtful debate about the issues described herein. We strongly believe that through such discourse and information-sharing people become more knowledgeable about the issues–and thus–better advocates for wildlife, wild lands and the environment. However, while thoughtful discourse encourages a shared understanding of the issues, vitriolic argument leads to entrenchment of positions, and turns off the many people who “listen in” on these discussions without ever posting. While we understand (and expect) that arguments will become “heated” at times, we strongly encourage posters to remain civil and keep your debate focused on the issues.

With this lofty goal in mind, here are a few general “tips” for communicating on this board:

(1) Please try to post information relevant to the issue discussed in the story; if you have other, unrelated information, you can post it under the “Have you come across any interesting wildlife news” thread.

(2) Avoid personal attacks. When debating with someone, please be sure your attacks are focused on the ideas with which you disagree (as opposed to the person). Many a good point is lost in useless exchanges that amount to little more than name-calling.

(3) Please cite relevant sources or information whenever you can. In so doing you will both bolster your argument, and expose others to new information.

(4) Finally: Avoid logical fallacies (e.g., straw man arguments, appeals to emotion). Here is a list of common logical fallacies with a wildlife-related examples:

Thank you for contributing to the dialogue!

About The Author

Jeremy Bruskotter

Dr. Jeremy Bruskotter is an associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the Ohio State University where his research interests are centered around the human dimensions” of wildlife conservation and management. Jeremy is passionate about wildlife–at one time or another, he has called himself hunter, angler, and wildlife photographer. Most of all, Jeremy is concerned with bringing the tools and techniques of the social sciences to bear on pressing issues in wildlife management.

18 Responses to Rules of The Wildlife News: Communicating with a Community of Conservationists

  1. Savebears says:


    Lofty goals, it will be interesting to see if things change a bit!

    • Well, I figured it couldn’t hurt to remind people. Besides, the holiday season is here! Hopefully a bit of that ‘good will toward men’ will rub off in a few posts. 😉

      Thanks for posting this, Ralph.

  2. I think today was a good day for this post. There was some really good data and analysis and discussion today and some unpleasant name-calling.

    I like the data and analysis.

    • Tom Page says:

      It’s somewhat unfortunate that this blog has lost several moderate posters over the past few years, but that seems to be the case for most discussion websites.
      The power of the internet to give voice to anonymous cranks and extremists of all stripes distorts the discussion of just about every issue out there. Often, it seems like a waste of time to post something…it just gets lost in the shouting and misinformation.

      I appreciate your efforts to keep the site going and moderate the comments.

    • Craig says:

      This is a great site for info but becomes a pit of hate at times. It would be nice if people left emotions behind and dealt with the problems at hand! We all know they are beyond comprehension and all our values are at stake!

  3. JEFF E says:

    presumably this means that 95+% of the threads will not be allowed to sink into an anti-hunting cesspool??

    • Mike says:

      Jeff –

      This site mostly discusses wolves. And 100% of the anti-wolf, anti-predator agenda comes from the ranching and hunting community. It does not come from anywhere else in the country. Acknowledging the source of the anti-predator hysteria that is currently damaging conservation causes across the U.S. is of upmost importance.

      From here we can understand “what went wrong” and look to correct it. How did anti-wolf hysteria sweep the Northern Rockies? How did it spread? Why is it viewed as a major issue when there are so few wolves? These are all questions that need to be answered, and can only be done by recognizing the source of misinformation and passion.

      • Immer Treue says:

        I’m currently reading Martin Nie’s “Beyond Wolves”. He does a pretty fair job of exploring and explaining some of these issues about wolves. So far, I’d strongly recommend anyone interested in the wolf debate, from either end of the spectrum to read the book.

        He spends some time with the natural recolonization of wolves in the GL states, and though not without concern, the growth of the wolf population in those states has been up to this time almost a non-issue.

        Whereas, in the NRM states, the wolves were reintroduced by the feds, and many of the folks inthe NRM states look at this as an intrusion, and he writes about the concerns of the people in states that have extractive industries, and ranching. Perhaps if the wolves had been allowed to naturally recolonize, some of the vitriole could have been avoided.

        That said, I believe that SSS was so prevalent, that “viable” populations never would have been able to reestablish themselves without Federal oversight.

        Beyond Wolves by Martin Nie; it’s not Wolfer, but certainly does provide a nonbiased view of the pros and cons of wolves, and wolves and people.

        • Salle says:

          I have been reading that one too… I started it last winter and have yet to finish the second half. I agree that it is a good interpretation of the concerns that shape this issue.

          I recommend it as enthusiastically as I do “Wolfer“. They are different perspectives but both are pretty fair in their assessments. I would also recommend a couple “oldies” that one would do well to revisit:

          Wolf Wars” by Hank Fischer and “The Yellowstone Wolves, The First Year” by Gary Ferguson.

          Both are good sources of the early days of the reintroduction and the first years after they were reintroduced respectively.

          • Immer Treue says:


            Needless to say I have read Wolfer, and read Fisher’s book sometime ago. Have not read the book by Gary Ferguson.

            Again, what I like about Nie’s book is his unbiased approach to all the stakeholders in the wolf conflict. Makes it very clear of the utilitarian viewpoint of wildlife in Western and rural areas.

      • Mike:

        There is a vast difference between understanding the causes of people’s negative views about wolves (which I fully support) and condemning whole groups of people based upon some attribute they share (e.g., they hunt). More importantly, the anti-hunting rhetoric that consistently emanates from some people who regularly post here really serves no purpose other than to turn potential allies in conservation into adversaries.

        • Virginia says:

          Not sure I understand the comment “understanding the causes of people’s negative views about wolves (which I fully support”. Are you saying you fully support negative views about wolves or what?

          • JB says:

            No, I am saying I support efforts to understand the causes of people’s attitudes [views] toward wolves.

  4. Ken Cole says:

    Sorry, but I think the post that I just posted is going to bring out a lot of emotions. I abhor the name calling that occurs here but some of the things are bound to bring out strong emotional reaction. I think people are better served in their arguments when they restrict their comments to the subject rather than a personality or class of people.

  5. Jon Way says:

    I agree with your comments here… Unfortunately it can be difficult at times for many of us to not be emotional (and maybe even a bit hateful) when you see politicians making decisions that affect all of us by using hate (predators), emotion (bison, predators), and just plain mis-information, or favoritism, to benefit specific user groups (no matter where we live). But yes, focusing on the problems at end are important and that makes it easier, as JB says, to be a community of conservationists when the biggest problem in most of these trends is the 1% of nobleman (livestock producers) who have a hugely disproportionate impact on the western lands that we all love.

  6. Christine Gertschen says:

    Conservation issues in the northern Rockies must be discussed in a calm and informed manner. Seems to me that conservationists and environmentalists have neglected the ecological information that is so badly needed about land and wildlife issues.

    I am lobbying for a forum where education and conservation can be discussed.

  7. Richie G. says:

    I thank Jerry,S.B. AND OF COURSE Ralph and Ken for all the good information regarding the western region, it’s inspirational. As Immer put it “Beyond Wolves” tells a big part of the answer about how regions reflect attitudes about wild animals. But wolves cause less of a problem, than coyote’s and wild dogs, and just the environment of the region. Plus politics plays a major role in this, Salazar should never have been in the position he is in now, that only helps the lords,which he is a part of. Thanks again Ralph for holding this forum so people could speak up on this issue.


December 2011


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey