U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service catches it for meddling with the wolf delisting peer review process

New York Times and others condemn Agency actions. Wolf delisting temporarily halts-

Before a species can be removed from the endangered or threatened species list a panel of qualified scientists  (“peers”) need to review the proposal to see if a delisting as proposed is justified — will not result in the species becoming in need of ESA help again, that it is truly recovered.

Most everyone seems to think the USFWS wants to delist the wolf in the worst possible way because it is a hot potato for them.  The result of it was they actually did mess up the process in the worst way by having 3 scientists on the review panel, members of which are all supposed to be anonymous to the Service, identified and removed. The three had earlier expressed reservations about the way delisting seemed to be shaping up.

We covered the story as did others.  A black eye for the Service didn’t end the matter, however. It was obvious the Service didn’t really want a fair review.  The “peer review” to them was just a step, a ritual they had to appear to perform.

The result is the wolf delisting is stalled for now because of the backlash to a corrupt process.  If the USFWS delisting plan is like weighing something at the grocer’s, the Service was caught with their hand on the scale. Will they be able to find a panel of competent scientists in the field that will bless their delisting plan in view of the fact that wolves are already in a downward population  slide in the states where they became delisted?

The New York Times wrote a very critical editorial about the Service. Wolves Under Review By New York Times Editorial Board.

The Union of Concerned Scientists too condemned the Service. Wolves, the Endangered Species Act, and Why Scientific Integrity Matters. By  Andrew Rosenber

. . . and more: The Unsavory Truth Behind the Move to Take Wolves Off the Endangered List The feds have dismissed three scientists from a wolf panel for, guess what, raising concerns about wolf delisting. “In Take Part”. By Tracy Ross.
Top Wolf Experts Excluded From Scientific Review of Wolf Delisting Proposal. Unprecedented Step Undermines “Best Available Science” Mandate of the Endangered Species Act. Press release. Center for Biological Diversity.

Corrupted peer reviews can not only end up costing lives, perhaps billions of dollars, and/or enshrining ignorance, they are basically a sin against the scientific method, if “sin” is an appropriate term to use regarding science.

It is entirely appropriate that believers in a flat Earth have no use for peer review.





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  1. Kirk Robinson Avatar
    Kirk Robinson

    When a commitment to truth and honesty is brazenly abandoned, there is no standard by which to judge and hence no genuine peer review is possible. But this is just the way things are often done on the level of state wildlife management. In Utah, for example, all the five state Regional Wildlife Councils, which take agency and public comment on proposed actions and report to the Wildlife Board, plus the Wildlife Board itself, are stacked heavily with members who will reliably vote for agency recommendations, which in turn are designed to serve those who “pay to play,” e.g., Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and Big Game Forever.

    One of the more recent examples of this is SFW’s offer to pay the Division of Wildlife Resources $50K to stock Rocky Mountain goats in the LaSal Mountains east of Moab, although there is a Forest Service Natural Area Reserve there to protect the LaSal daisy, a rare plant endemic to those mountains, and no history of goats ever having been there. DWR “justifies” this effort, clearly intended to provide hunting opportunities for SFW and others, by claiming there is a vacant niche on the mountains, left by the removal of big horn sheep (you know how), and that the goats will act as surrogates to keep the ecosystem healthy. Of course, there are no studies to demonstrate this. Science is basically irrelevant. Even worse, the Forest Service, which has the authority to oppose this plan in order to protect the habitat in the mountains, seems prepared to just roll over.

    But perhaps I digress.

  2. rork Avatar

    “already in a downward population slide”
    “believers in a flat Earth”
    These bits did not help, and could have easily been said more carefully.

    1. Mike Avatar

      Bullies need to be shouted down at every step.

  3. Richie G. Avatar
    Richie G.

    Good It’s about time !

  4. Richie G. Avatar
    Richie G.

    They are finally exposed for who they really are now at least it comes under a spotlight ,their were articles before but now as I said they are under a spotlight, maybe they will be review for all that they do against wildlife. I just hope this does not blow over like the inside trading did by congress and their aides.

  5. Jon Way Avatar

    Yet these ppl abandoning science will be the first to want medicine if they or a family member gets sick even though the drug was approved using that same scientific method…

  6. eloise Avatar

    I expect nothing better from the government.
    Wolves can’t vote or donate to elections. Can’t do any favors in return. Therefore they are expendable.


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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