MTNTOUGH - Use promo code RANDY for 30 days free

What The Hell is Science-Based Management?

Nameless Range

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 6, 2013
Messages
5,810
Location
Western Montana
I did Google it. Just stream-of-consciousness while the kids eat breakfast this morning....

A discussion around wolf hunting the other day, and the fact that I purchase a wolf tag every year, brought forth a rejoinder from someone who doesn’t that they don’t do so because they believe in “Science-based” management. I mean, so do I, though I wonder how useful a tenant of the NAM it is given how broad a thing “science” is. Talking about Wolf Hunting on the internet is akin to starting a gun control thread on Hunt Talk, but when it comes to what I personally do or don’t do, I have often thought of something I heard the comedian Neal Brennan say the other day: “Sometimes my internal Supreme Court is a 4-3 Decision.” I’ve only ever been inside my own head, but the describes my decision making better than the absolutes we often speak in.

The internet philosopher in me thinks Science can inform us on how to get somewhere, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us where to go. That decision - the destination to which we want to head – is arguably the product of many things, a sort of Is-Ought Problem. I suppose we could resolve this problem by expanding what science includes. Wildlife Science? Social Science? Cultural Science?

For years I have played a game in my head. Read a position piece against the possibility of Grizzly Hunting or of Wolf Hunting. Every time you see the word grizzly or wolf, replace it with mule deer, or elk. More often than not the logic will hold just the same…“But there’s too many elk ( or mule deer) in Montana!” Not in most places. Not for most animals we hunt and fish.

In the same vein and often for the same reasons in opposition, the term “balanced-ecosystem” is used. Certainly not trying to straw-man, but to many, it seems that a balanced ecosystem is one that reaches and keeps a sort of sustainable undulating equilibrium sans any human interference or influence. A kind of model of the world as it was before westward expansion, and maybe well before that. I think there’s a flaw here. The difference between a native and non-native animal really is a difference revolving around human changes to a place, and is a useful distinction for a lot of things. That said, there’s something circular happening, and unresolvable as long as we breathe air here. Does scientific management include the science around the most influential animals on the landscape, or are we omitting those? How does the science of a culture interplay with the science of wildlife populations and how do we weigh each?

A culture belongs to those within it, and the world is changing damn fast, and though of course culture exists on a sort of 4D spectrum, there’s an undertone of self-flagellation in a lot of modern thinking as if we aren’t deserving of thinking of ourselves as critters , that I think sets us up for confusing conversations. I can think of nothing that we govern and manage solely through a science that omits human interest, though I do believe that is the destination many would like for wildlife as long as the interests omitted aren't theirs.

If we agree on the destination, science can guide us as well as anything. But in many conversations over the years, I think it’s in the destination that confusion and disagreement exists. My own destination being as much heritage – customs and traditions; what I feel like doing – as much as anything. And that is a very shallow thing to defend. Think of encountering some far away society, very different from yours, and asking them to defend their culture with logic against your own. How fruitful would that be?

We’re leveraging “science” differently to justify taking different trails because we’re hoping to head to different places. The internet has really coagulated the melting pot, and so I largely think that’s where we are at, and “science-based management” is often a concept without much utility.
 
Last edited:
"Science based" is the latest phase used to shut down anyone who disagrees with your opinion.

I don't think you're wrong, but my attempt at rambling above leads me to the conclusion that even if we are charitable - even if we assume someone with whom we disagree is genuinely wanting to manage wildlife in a "science-based" way - it doesn't get us to consensus.
 
Science ends where the decision on how to apply the data begins.

Science tells us when abc are the factors, xyz is the observed result. There’s nothing scientific that determines what we should do with the data. That is a values based decision on the part of managers.
 
if someone asked me over beers what i think science based management is i would maybe trend towards geralds answer and suggest there really isn't much in the way of science based management.

science tells us how it works and what will happen, then we decide if we like the potential outcomes our management decisions might have based on a big 'ol mix of factors, of which science is only a portion.

i mean, how is hunting in and of itself "science based?" the decisions to hunt and to allow hunting is not a science based decision, it's a socially based decision based on the desires of the public and powers that be. science just helps us understand how we can hunt without causing irreversible damage to animal populations. and maybe that's exactly what is meant by science based 🤷‍♂️

so, IMO even if the science tells us a popoulation can sustain a hunt but the public decides they don't want that animal hunted, that decision is just as science based as allowing the animal to be hunted in some respects, unfortunatly.
 
Having gone back and reread your edited OP, I think writing science would indicate that it is a damn fine stream of consciousness for originating while the kids eat breakfast.

My morning stream of consciousness usually consists of, “Where’s my coffee?”
 
Last edited:
I understand why, but also think it necessarily must whether it's explicitly stated or not.
I believe it has to include social science because at social science core is the study of our behavior and our influence to the world around us. I am an engineer by trade and my brothers are both in social sciences. It has caused many disagreements but through mutual respect, we have agreed some topics are just better left alone. My argument is too fundamental as I would use strict definitions of science and use of the scientific method as trained through my degrees. It can leave you boxed in though. We were trained to try to prove something wrong in our hypothesis in order to get away from trying to prove it right and skew the results in our favor. Of course you can bias that as well but it is easier to pick apart when you do. Although stubborn (as engineers are) I have learned to accept that social science needs to be considered. I just think it is weighted a little too heavy as of late.
 
the topic does also cause me to consider the potential arrogance of science. and perhaps it's not the arrogance of science itself and rather it is the arrogance of humanity and ignorance of its own perception of time and the universe.

every collective generation of humans seems to mistakenly believe that they largely have arrived - though of course many of our brilliant scientists, historians, and philosophers and even theologians well understand that we haven't. but in the social sciences sense, humans have tendency to think the generation in which they exist is the zenith and have it all figured out with our science and philosophy while a cursory glance at history should remind them how stark the ignorance is there.

from the origins of the universe, our religions, to the breaking up of pangea and then on to deer management and climate science we have a shortsighted tendency as a collective species to believe we now fully understand how it happened and where we're going and sometimes i truly feel the scientists themselves are to blame sometimes for not being careful enough with their asterisks. but at it's core, it's a collective species group think problem perpetuated by the same 'ol problems from generation to generation.

rambling thoughts after a 3rd caffeinated beverage and a night with a feverish 16 month
 
I did Google it. Just stream-of-consciousness while the kids eat breakfast this morning....

A discussion around wolf hunting the other day, and the fact that I purchase a wolf tag every year, brought forth a rejoinder from someone who doesn’t that they don’t do so because they believe in “Science-based” management. I mean, so do I, though I wonder how useful a tenant of the NAM it is given how broad a thing “science” is. Talking about Wolf Hunting on the internet is akin to starting a gun control thread on Hunt Talk, but when it comes to what I personally do or don’t do, I have often thought of something I heard the comedian Neal Brennan say the other day: “Sometimes my internal Supreme Court is a 4-3 Decision.” I’ve only ever been inside my own head, but the describes my decision making better than the absolutes we often speak in.

The internet philosopher in me thinks Science can inform us on how to get somewhere, but it doesn’t necessarily tell us where to go. That decision - the destination to which we want to head – is arguably the product of many things, a sort of Is-Ought Problem. I suppose we could resolve this problem by expanding what science includes. Wildlife Science? Social Science? Cultural Science?

For years I have played a game in my head. Read a position piece against the possibility of Grizzly Hunting or of Wolf Hunting. Every time you see the word grizzly or wolf, replace it with mule deer, or elk. More often than not the logic will hold just the same…“But there’s too many elk ( or mule deer) in Montana!” Not in most places. Not for most animals we hunt and fish.

In the same vein and often for the same reasons in opposition, the term “balanced-ecosystem” is used. Certainly not trying to straw-man, but to many, it seems that a balanced ecosystem is one that reaches and keeps a sort of sustainable undulating equilibrium sans any human interference or influence. A kind of model of the world as it was before westward expansion, and maybe well before that. I think there’s a flaw here. The difference between a native and non-native animal really is a difference revolving around human changes to a place, and is a useful distinction for a lot of things. That said, there’s something circular happening, and unresolvable as long as we breathe air here. Does scientific management include the science around the most influential animals on the landscape, or are we omitting those? How does the science of a culture interplay with the science of wildlife populations and how do we weigh each?

A culture belongs to those within it, and the world is changing damn fast, and though of course culture exists on a sort of 4D spectrum, there’s an undertone of self-flagellation in a lot of modern thinking as if we aren’t deserving of thinking of ourselves as critters , that I think sets us up for confusing conversations. I can think of nothing that we govern and manage solely through a science that omits human interest, though I do believe that is the destination many would like for wildlife as long as the interests omitted aren't theirs.

If we agree on the destination, science can guide us as well as anything. But in many conversations over the years, I think it’s in the destination that confusion and disagreement exists. My own destination being as much heritage – customs and traditions; what I feel like doing – as much as anything. And that is a very shallow thing to defend. Think of encountering some far away society, very different from yours, and asking them to defend their culture with logic against your own. How fruitful would that be?

We’re leveraging “science” differently to justify taking different trails because we’re hoping to head to different places. The internet has really coagulated the melting pot, and so I largely think that’s where we are at, and “science-based management” is often a concept without much utility.
An excuse to do whatever they want!
 
Its basically kill or save as many animals for what is socially acceptable.

The fact that we try to "manage" wildlife is just weird. Other than not killing them, we believe we can play god and control species by killing this or that, manipulating populations, and habitat. While we succeed at times, we seem to fail at the long game, because ultimately we can't control the largest contributing factor, weather.

I have serious doubts that some animals will ever recover to population levels of even 20 or 30 years ago, let alone any sort of historic levels. IMO, wildlife management just slows the bleeding.
 
The science is just a method for collecting data and describing the world. We can disagree on the methods used to collect the data, and through trial and error hopefully we refine our methods and reach a point of agreeing that the data is accurate. What we then do with the data is a social science.

I remember sitting in a Fish and Game meeting a few years ago when the Dept. presented the latest mule deer population estimates. The population was at a 20 year high and growing. The metrics established in the management plan justified extending the deer season by a week to increase harvest opportunity. The week extension would have allowed hunting during pre rut. The numbers also justified expanding doe harvest. That was the science. None of those proposals were implemented because the hunter response was no to all those things. The social science exhibited no tolerance for expanding harvest despite the biological science saying it was justifiable.

The hunters in the room were angry that the game dept. even suggested increasing opportunity to hunt bucks closer to the rut. "You'll kill all the bucks, just when hunting is starting to get good again" they said. The biologist pointed out that they projected sustained/slightly growing herd numbers even with additional harvest. He also pointed out that we had a good streak of mild winters and that if we didn't kill the deer, the next bad winter would. Well that bad winter came the very next year. Thanks to a couple other bad winters since then the herd has still not recovered. Hunters seem to be ignoring all that history and data and blaming the game dept. for killing all the deer.

So when I hear hunters crying about scientific management in the face of anti-hunter agendas, I'm slightly amused. As with all things we only seem to care about the science if it supports our preconceived opinions.

Science can be a tricky thing.
 
Science is whatever those paying the bill, want it to be.

Unfortunately science for science sake has long since disappeared.
Ain’t this the truth. Science for science sake has battled politics ever since Galileo was ex-communicated for heliocentrism, continuing through Darwin and the continued push for creationism to be taught still, and currently most obvious with Covid and climate change.
 
Back
Top