Misconceptions about Wildlife Research in General & Dr. Rogers Bear Research
- Blog Post by: T.R. Michels
- July 6, 2011 - 11:31 AM
I recently posted some of my thoughts on Dr. Lynn Rogers' bear research, and my efforts to help him gain protection for the bears he researches on a hunting talk forum. As expected, I received a lot of negative responses.
I've got a number of things to say about the negative posts.
1. It is often those who oppose anything that are often the most vocal.
2. Those who oppose something often say/write things that are misleading, unfounded or incorrect.
3. Those who oppose hunting bans often do not understand the reasons why the ban is being asked for.
With all of that said.
There seems to be some misunderstanding on WHY animal research is conducted.
1. most research on wild animals, especially game animals, is conducted for the purposed of game management, and therefore does not focus on activities or behaviors of interest to hunters or animals behaviorists.
2, research conducted by animal behaviorists, and those interested in ways to use animal behavior for hunting purposes - is often conducted to learn more about the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly behavior, family relationship, communication, and it is used to educate others, and used to understand how animal activity relates to human behavior.
There seems to be some misunderstanding about whose study this is and the PURPOSE of the study.
1. this is not my study.
2. this study has nothing to do with the mortality rates of any bears. Therefore, any objections to the study, based on the fact that mortality rates are not included in the study, are not relevant.
3. this study is about the minute by minute, hourly, daily, weekly monthly yearly activity of bears, the relationship of bears to each other within an ecosystem, and how members of an extended clan of bears (particularly the females) interact with each other during their lives. Because of this, it is essential that the bears not be subjected to hunting and death by hunting.
4. this study is being partially done in an attempt to educate non-hunters and hunters alike, who may have misconceptions about bears, around the world, about bear behavior on a daily basis, through video footage on the internet.
5. this study is partially done in order to get internet viewers and readers interested in wildlife management, with the hopes of a greater understanding of why and how conservation and ecosystem based wildlife management is needed now - for the future.
6. some of this study focuses on the physiology of the animals during different periods of the day, month, year, breeding phase etc. As such there are times when the animals must be handled.
That being said, some latitude should be given - as to how the research is conducted, especially by those who adhere to strictly "hands/off observational" wildlife research techniques.
There seems to be some misunderstanding about how a lot of wildlife research has been done in the past, and how it is currently done.
1. in it’s early stages, well above 80 percent of wildlife research was conducted on penned, caged, semi-tame or tame animals, such as the research studies instigated by wildlife naturalist Konrad Z. Lorenz, who studied the daily and familial activities of jackdaws, graylag geese and Alsatian dogs.
2. today, research on large animals is often conducted on penned animals, or ones that are accustomed to humans (such as on wildlife preserves and state/national parks), therefore a lot of research on animals is conducted on animals that might not be considered "wild".
3. it has been shown, through captive, semi-tame and wild animal research, that the daily activities of animals are basically the same, that the familial relationship and interactivity of animals is the same, and that the vocalizations and scent marking behavior of animals are the same - whether the researched animals are wild or semi-tame.
4. two of the most widely accepted and most publicized studies on large animals were conducted on human-acclimatized animals in the wild; gorillas by Diane Fossey and chimpanzees by Jane Goodall. Their research techniques were almost identical to Dr. Rogers techniques; one exception being the taking medical history, which does not jeopardize or negate the rest of his study; it adds to it.
With that said - about 75 % of the research deer, turkey and waterfowl hunters rely on to use scents and vocalizations/calls while hunting - has been gained through research on animals that were not wild.
About 50% of the research deer hunters rely on to choose the best times to hunt deer is based on animals that (by the definition above) were not wild.
And yet -
Research gained from animals that are not strictly wild had proven to be invaluable to hunters. Hunters have learned what time of day animals are most active or inactive, when their peak breeding phase occurs, how animals communicate with each other through sight (decoys/flagging), scent (chemical attractants) and sound (calls), differences between male and female behavior, behavioral differences between age groups, and how social status and dominance affects behavior.
Without research conducted on penned, cages or semi-tame animals, we might not know much of this.
This study has taught thousands of people, around the world, the truth about bear behavior, that in most instances they do not have to be feared. It has also educate them on the intimate relationship between wildlife and their environment, with the result that many people, who might otherwise not care about wildlife management or ecosystem management, are now concerned about plant and animal conservation.
The benefits of Dr. Lynn Rogers research, including the protection of the bears he researches, far outweighs any opposition to the protection of the bears that can or has been raised.
After all of that - I'd like to hear WHY some of you who are not opposed to protection for these bears, think they should be protected.
I'd like to see WHY, those of you are against protection from the bears, think it would negatively affect hunting. What have you - personally - got to loose- from protection of these 89-20 bears?. (Realize that almost all of them are reproducing females, or cubs, not trophy class bears. Have you thought about the negative publicity that opposition to this proposal, by hunters, brings to hunting and the hunting community as a whole? Have you thought about the positive publicity that support of this bill, by hunters, would bring to hunting and the hunting community as whole?)
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