Biases In Counting
Counting grizzly bears is inherently challenging. But, the graphs and analyses accessed by following the link below show that games are being played with the data by government officials to overstate increases in the Yellowstone grizzly bear population so as to, in turn, justify delisting. It is important to remember that these games are being played at taxpayer expense and have real, life and death consequences for threatened grizzly bears. The graphs and underlying information are based on data collected and synthesized by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team. In this page, we tell "the rest of the story".
Models and Preset Conclusions
Dr. David Mattson shows in the piece accessed by the link below how the government plays games by choosing models and time frames that produce maximally inflated representations of population and size – rather than the most accurate, unbiased, relevant, and useful views. Dr. Mattson concludes that all efforts by government scientists to estimate trend for the Yellowstone population are slaved to the past--a fixed gaze in the rear view mirror while the management landscape is dramatically changing for the worse.
The Grizzly Numbers Game
In the media, the government bandies confusing and contradictory information on size and trend of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population. The article linked below tries to help people make sense of what they hear in the media, and explains where the various estimates come from and the problems with the methods used. Dr. David Mattson concludes that there is no evidence of significant population increase during the last 15 years. Most if not all of the claimed “increases” have been a result of changing methods, rather than a real increase in the size of the population.
Conflicts and Mortalities
The public has been swamped with misinformation about the growth of the Yellowstone grizzly bear population during the last decade, with some agency officials claiming a doubling of the population in the last handful of years. Using a 3-year running average of the most reliable estimates of females with cubs of the year (based on the Mark-Resight method), Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team data shows that the population has not increased since around 2002, and has probably declined since 2007, which was near the terminus of when most of whitebark pine forests had died in the Yellowstone ecosystem.
The Fog of Science 1
The Stealth Advocacy of Grizzly Bear Numbers
In this must-read piece, Dr. Mattson examines how government researchers entrusted with studying Yellowstone's grizzly bears have misrepresented population trend during the last three years. The behavior of these scientists is explained through application of a framework developed by Dr. Roger Pielke, author of The Honest Broker. Yellowstone's grizzly bear scientists are clearly playing the part of Stealth Issue Advocates, seeking to “…hide behind a façade of science, either pure scientist or science arbiter,” which, Pielke claims, “…is the swiftest route to pathologically politicizing science.” Examples of stealth advocacy by researchers and managers are numerous in the case of Yellowstone’s grizzly bears, and especially evident in how estimates of population size and trend are generated and then represented to the public. Mattson concludes that this kind of stealth advocacy by tax-payer-paid government scientists is a betrayal of the public’s trust.
The Fog of Science 2
Appling and Oranging Grizzly Bear Numbers
Comparing apples and oranges is, and has long been, central to government propaganda about size and trend of Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population. Using different methods, public servants have long asserted that Yellowstone’s grizzly bear population has tripled even quintupled in size since given ESA protections in 1975—from fewer than 180 to roughly 700, or 750, or 1000, or 1200(?) now. Mattson shows that the only way you can come up with these kinds of increases is by flipping between 4 different methods used by the government at different times. In other words, assertions of substantial population increase are fabrications born of comparing results produced by different methods. In reality the Yellowstone grizzly bear population has merely doubled since 1975, seen little or no increase since 2002, and exhibited a marked decline since 2014. Mattson concludes: “we need to demand honesty and integrity from the government employees entrusted with managing our grizzly bears.”