Science Does Guide Wildlife Management in North America: Scientists and Conservation Leaders Respond to Artelle et al.

October 3, 2018

Today, Science Advances publishes a formal response entitled ‘Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management’. This response, authored by a broad group of scientists, wildlife managers, and conservation professionals in the United States and Canada, reveals the unfortunate errors in the Artelle et al. article which inaccurately concluded that state and provincial fish and wildlife agencies in North America are managing wildlife without using science.  

“We are happy to report that state and provincial fish and wildlife management is indeed guided by a broad range of scientific information, deployed by individuals who have extensive scientific training, in order to conserve our nations natural resources for future generations,” said Ed Carter, President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and Executive Director of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.  “Our state fish and wildlife agencies use all means at their disposal to manage and conserve their most valuable resources, our fish and wildlife, along with clean air, water, healthy forests and agricultural lands that support all of us.” 

Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management highlights several key errors in the original Artelle et al. paper.  First, Artelle et al. confuse the process of conducting scientific research with the process of managing wildlife or other natural resources: while wildlife and natural resource management is informed by science, management activities may not always conform to the same principles and format as a scientific research project.  Furthermore, the primary source of information for the Artelle et al. paper was a series of wildlife management reports and documents that they downloaded from agency websites; these authors did not actually meet with state and provincial wildlife agency managers to learn how science is applied in real-world wildlife management.  Artelle et al. identified a set of “hallmarks of science” and then examined their collection of documents and reports from agency websites to see if these “hallmarks” appeared in these management documents.  Artelle et al. mistakenly concluded that an absence of their “hallmarks of science” from agency documents meant that these documents are not grounded in science, when in fact scientific information is considered by wildlife managers at each step in the decision-making process.   

The Association would like to acknowledge the authors of Artelle et al. (2018) Miss the Science Underlying North American Wildlife Management: Jonathan R. Mawdsley (AFWA), John F. Organ (USGS), Daniel J. Decker (Cornell University), Ann B. Forstchen (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission), Ronald J. Regan (AFWA), Shawn J. Riley (Michigan State University), Mark S. Boyce (University of Alberta), John E. McDonald Jr. (The Wildlife Society), Chris Dwyer (U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Shane P. Mahoney (Conservation Visions).