In August, the Fish and Wildlife Service made news by trying to exclude certain scientists from peer reviewing their proposed rule removing endangered species protections for wolves across most of the US. As a scientist who works to ensure that other scientists comment on important wildlife policy matters, I was dismayed by the Service’s actions, which embody the reasons many scientists refrain from getting involved in the policy process to begin with:fear of being perceived as biased and suffering professionally for voicing their views.
So I was glad to hear yesterday that the Service admitted their actions were wrong and began a new peer review process for the proposal. The review will be run by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and should be independent of any involvement from the Service. We’ll certainly be watching to make sure it is.
Another group of people will be watching too – a fierce group of wolf supporters who showed up last night at a rally and public hearing at the Department of Interior in Washington DC to voice their opposition to the Service’s plan to remove federal protections for wolves. More than sixty inspiring people from all walks of life – some of whom had traveled quite a distance –spoke about their own personal experiences with wolves and their desire to have wolves achieve true recovery by being allowed to recolonize significant amounts of remaining suitable habitat.
As the Service considers whether and how to finalize their proposal, each one of the wolf supporters who spoke last night made it unquestionably clear that it’s not just the scientists and the lawyers who will be watching – the overwhelming majority of the American public that support continued wolf recovery will be watching too.