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Study: Most North American wildlife policy not backed by science

When government agencies implement policies regarding wildlife management, it’s often with the assumption that the policies are the result of thorough scientific research.

However, a new study reviewing wildlife management has found that claims that policies are backed by science are largely unfounded.

Researchers from Simon Fraser University conducted a study that looked at the scientific rigor supposedly applied to many hunt management systems in North America.

The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

The researchers collected and analyzed all publicly available documents regarding 667 hunt management systems. These policies applied to 27 different species groups across all 50 United States and the Canadian Provinces.

Four hallmarks that prove scientific rigor were applied to the policies. The hallmarks, a clear objective, the use of evidence, transparency, and external review, were used to show that the management systems were science-based.

The results showed that there was very little scientific backing for the majority of the management systems analyzed according to the results.

60 percent of the systems featured less than half of the hallmarks or indicator criteria, and some had almost no scientific backing.

The researchers found that 9 percent of the systems explained how hunting quotas were set, and less than 10 percent of them had any review process.

All in all, the study shows how little science plays a role in implementing important wildlife hunting policies in North America.

“The key to honest discussions about wildlife management and conservation is clarity about where the science begins and ends,” said Kyle Artelle, leader of the research. “Our approach provides a straightforward litmus test for science-based claims.”

Artelle went on to state that hunting policies should not just be guided by science alone as there are other important socioeconomic factors to consider.  

However, if scientific research is claimed to a play a vital role in the decision, the evidence of the research should be obvious.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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