Watch this one, folx…junk science & PAC-backed politics will work to open the Wild
Rockies to oil/gas drilling…we’ve caught this odor on the breeze before.
“McCain can always get a laugh with his line about spending money on bear DNA (was
it “a paternity issue or a criminal issue”?), but he would do better to get serious
about understanding regional concerns if he expects Montana and other Western
states to support him.”
Daily InterLake (Kalispell, Montana)
September 17, 2008
When politics and science collide
Inter Lake editorial
Montanans should be proud of an unprecedented grizzly bear population census that
was recently completed in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem.
It is an important step in measuring the health of the population and its potential
for recovery. But the “snapshot” count of 765 bears roaming the 7.2 million acre
study area during the summer of 2004 is a long shot from a possible delisting, a
process that will depend more on efforts to gauge how the population is trending.
Nor is the genetic population study, led by Kate Kendall of the U.S. Geological
Survey, a breakthrough that “could help ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling,
logging and other development,” as the Associated Press reported.
The study will indeed become part of the “best available science,” with potential
to soundly refute errant claims that the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem’s grizzly
population is on the verge of collapse. The study’s results render obsolete a previous
estimate, which was really just a guess, that the populaton numbered around 300 bears.
“Northwestern Montana’s grizzly bear population is healthy, growing and genetically
diverse,” Jeff Hagener, director of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said this
week. But he could not have come to that conclusion without the population study,
which has been repeatedly criticized by Republican presidential candidate John
McCain as an example of wasteful spending.
McCain is wrong. While it cost $4.8 million, it was carried out with extreme efficiency,
despite massive logistical challenges. We only wish that all government projects were
done in the same manner, and relatively speaking, the cost was a drop in the bucket
compared to most government projects. In addition, there is at least the potential for
savings in the long run because without science to prove there are grizzlies in the woods,
there will definitely be grizzlies on the endangered list. And as long as they are on the list,
the government will be spending millions of dollars everytime a bear sneezes in the woods.
Kendall’s study shined a light on what had previously been a mystery, and because of that,
land and wildlife managers can have a better understanding of the effectiveness of their
efforts to recover the Northern Continental Divide’s grizzly bear population.
McCain can always get a laugh with his line about spending money on bear DNA (was it “a
paternity issue or a criminal issue”?), but he would do better to get serious about
understanding regional concerns if he expects Montana and other Western states to