Science Committee Update and Ramblings

By Dan Thompson, Science Committee Chair

Solace in Science

Seems a lot of confusion going on around the globe of late…it’s easy to become disenchanted or disenfranchised when caught up in a whirlwind of negativity, misunderstanding, or just plain old evil. I find solace in the purest and perhaps most innocent forms of scientific discovery, perhaps one could call it childlike enlightenment. We’ve all had that “aha!” moment (eureka may be trademarked at this point) as scientists when something finally clicked or when you knew that you found something that would actually contribute to the scientific community. Sometimes, many times, in the wildlife profession it is a more basic or primal celebration of good fortune, backed by skill, that we celebrate. Weeks or months-long capture events to get that representative sample caught, locating a rare or dwindling species, developing the proper notation for the R code you’ve been fighting for days, getting chains on your truck when you lost feeling in your fingers at least 20 minutes prior, “accepted with revisions,” and sometimes just getting back to camp after a day of tracking in time for a warm meal and comfortable bedroll (some may argue that a dry camp or stuck vehicle has nothing to do with the scientific method, but that critical component of the journey of gaining knowledge is what advances science in my humble opinion). No matter what you may do, there’s always flotsam to return to:  bills, project reports, flawed analyses, faulty equipment, email – always remember the importance of the little things that keep the scientific vigor in your soul.

Speaking of vigor – the Science Committee is here for you!!! The Committee was founded to provide a voice for the Chapter in regards to the scientific merit of all things considered potentially impacting wildlife and wildlife habitats in Wyoming. If you have something occurring or proposed to occur in your local nape of the woods let us know how we can help…look for more information regarding the Science Committee and the importance of science in an ever-evolving/devolving society at our annual meeting in December. As to tangible examples:  recently we provided information and testimony regarding legislation that directed the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to evaluate the use of captive sage-grouse rearing. The science behind the issue is pretty straightforward, but it is going forward regardless – it is now up to the scientific method in the evaluation of this medium toward the future. We can always learn from our actions.

We are at an interesting time, we have the most expeditious sharing of information in the history of modern time directly at our fingertips, but many people both outside our profession and within lack the proper context to inform their interpretation of that information, and that instantaneous sharing creates a wave that reaches typhoon-like proportions almost immediately (insert surfing the green wave reference here). Don’t become disheartened too easily true believers, there is solace in the inner machinations of what we do and why it matters…remember we see color for a reason, ‘tis not a black and white world we live in.


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.