Science Committee Update and Ramblings

By Dan Thompson, Science Committee Chair

Richard Feynman once said, “No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression… Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.” (If you’ve never read anything by Richard Feynman you should, devotees will note I’ve referenced him several times). I really don’t feel I need to expand or pontificate on this subject ‒ peruse your phone, open a paper, or turn on a computer if you need to connect any dots. And if you aren’t aware, I hope you were on one heckuva pack trip and am jealous.

There wasn’t much in the way of winter doldrums in the world of wildlife management and the role of science in our profession. Wyoming TWS and the Science Committee closely followed our state and national legislative actions that impact Wyoming’s wildlife. Of note, HB 271 regarding game bird farms for sage grouse, probably caused the biggest stir within. The Science Committee worked with the WYTWS board to provide scientific evidence as to the efficacy of game bird farming for sage grouse (lack of efficacy would be more appropriate). Despite the bill passing, it allowed our State Chapter to reinforce our position and role in the realm of wildlife conservation within the state of Wyoming and beyond.

This past winter’s furor will test the adaptability and resilience of Wyoming’s wildlife and, probably moreso, Wyoming’s wildlife managers. We have the fortune of being able to evaluate the potential significance of this winter on Wyoming’s ungulate populations and habitats due to multiple projects occurring on the landscape, reinforcing the importance of active research and monitoring. One never knows when nature is going to throw you a swooping curve; evaluation and quantification would be a glass half full approach to a potentially dismal situation in certain areas of the state. Keep your nose in the wind…

Read the letter that the Chapter sent to Wyoming Senators:
HB271 Wyoming Chapter TWS Letter to Senators

Read the letter that the Chapter sent to Wyoming Governor Matt Mead:
HB271 Wyoming Chapter TWS Letter to Governor

Dan Thompson is the Large Carnivore Section Supervisor for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, where he oversees the State’s mountain lion, wolf, and grizzly and black bear management and research.