Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Eli Writes

Eli, both cautious and direct (well, damnit this is Eli's blog so what did you expect), is in the habit of asking others what they mean rather than constructing elaborate finger weaves, so when White Beard (he has another missive) pointed out that something was fowl (yes Weasel, Eli knows) with parts of the DOI Inspector Clouseau report, Eli took electrons in hand and wrote to Dr. Rosa Meehan who was quoted in the IG Report in her then role as Division Chief, FWS’ Marine Mammals Management (MMM) program in Anchorage, AK

Dear Dr. Meehan,

I have been reading the DOI IG report on Charles Monnett, and came across the following statement on page 37
Meehan explained the distinction between threatened and endangered listings by stating that threatened “means you’ve got a population that’s in trouble” and endangered means that the “species is one that is in danger of extinction.” Meehan said that the polar bear was designated as a threatened, rather than endangered, species because at the time of MMM’s evaluation, the polar bear population was estimated to be around 200,000, and they were not likely to become extinct.

Meehan further explained that there are instances when species have been listed immediately as endangered.  Meehan said that informal interviews conducted with scientists and subject experts on modeling revealed that the evidence pointed mainly to the change in the ecosystem and its correlation to the polar bears losing prey, losing weight, and other issues.

On the face of it, it appears that the 200,000 estimate is too high by at least an order of magnitude, and I was wondering if you agreed that 20,000 is a better estimate or have a better estimate of the population.  Further, USGS has stated that climate change and the associated decline in summer ice in the Arctic is the most important threat to the polar bears, has the position of FWS shifted on this, or did your statement about changes in the ecosystem refer to the accelerating loss of summer ice in the Arctic?

While I would appreciate a response that I could quote or paraphrase, any request for confidentiality will be honored
Today Ethon flew in with the air Email from Dr. Meehan
Hi -

The 200,000 is definitely a typo/misquote - I usually go with the range of 20 - 25,000.
The explanation I provided is the longer version of simply saying the sea ice is going away. I haven't heard of anyone in FWS or the administration saying anything else.

Hope this is helpful.
Very, and Eli thanks Dr. Meehan because this establishes authoritatively that the best estimate of polar bear population in the Arctic is between 20 and 25K, AND that the major threat to the population is the sea ice decline, the basic implication of Monnett and Gleasons' paper as set forth in a footnote.

Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think the IG evasive in dancing about how the loss of habitat for a species that spends most of its foraging time on sea ice refers to the loss of sea ice.  Very artful the dodgers are, for example, they report on their interview with Douglas Krofta, the Fish and Wildlife Services Chief of the Endangered Species Listing Program,
Krofta “strongly” believed that if Monnett’s manuscript information had not been used for support, FWS would have still gone forward with the listing. Krofta believed that the manuscript helped to create an image about how the loss of sea ice causes bears to have to swim greater distances and the possible relationship between sea ice loss and more bears drowning.
He reiterated, however, that they had “very strong” data that suggested that the polar bear’s habitat itself was being lost and the effects on the polar bear were going to be severe. Because of these data, Krofta speculated FWS would have gone forward with its recommendation even without Monnett’s manuscript information.
Eli contemplates writing to the DOI IG about the shoddy work her shop is putting out.


David B. Benson said...

I hope Eli gets off his bunny tail and does indeed write to the IG, copy to the DOI Secretary.

dhogaza said...

Isn't this the kind of thing that people like Andy Revkin are supposed to do, rather than have tea with the likes of RPJr?

Aaron said...

I have a friend who is a "whistle blower" at DOI. The DOI IG seems to have a great deal of work to do.

Prodding the DOI IG to work faster or turn out better work is like poking a mule. It does work, but mules have thick skins and can tolerate a lot of pain.

I suggest also copying your congressman and senators.

In fact, I suggest everybody drop a note to their congressman and senators about the situation in the North.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

The obvious problem is Monnett is biased and this is one study. The polar bear population has risen since the 1960s so there is no reason to list them as endangered.

And if you want to argue that Monnet is not biased, why didn't he gather any evidence of the alleged dead bears? That's crappy work and if you can't admit it, your partisanship is showing.

Finally, what if we do designate the polar bear as endangered? Is Eli going to travel to the north pole? No. He's going to do a blog post about what a great thing it is to change one word on a piece of paper.

I don't think you have ever proved even 1 time or even shown evidence of a polar bear that died because they drowned. Showing a picture of a dead bear floating in the water does not count.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

I also plan on writing the IG that the bear should be taken off the "threatened" list and placed on the "flourishing" list.

J Bowers said...

Lumpus, did a moose do the bear in a bar and took it out to sea to dump? Perhaps you could offer alternative scenarios for how the bear got there all deceased, actually specifying how the bear died, step by step.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Lumpus Spookytooth, phd.

@J Bowers

I submit that an arctic barracuda bit those bears, and as everyone knows, the arctic barracuda is highly poisonous.

Jeffrey Davis said...

... and one day, after the London Times had erroneously printed an obituary for the singer Gordon Summers, Keats piped up, "Sting, where is thy death?"

One Lump or Two does that to people.

Russell said...

Barracuda indeed- you get cingatura by biting into reef fish, not the other way around, Methinks that bear was likelier noshed by the Giant Squab of Labrador Spookytoothys nux,

Our totemic dead white bear, souvenir of a 1925 Alaskan cruise, succumbed to green mold after being banished from the nursery floor to a damp basement in a fit of political correctness ca. 1975.

Martin Vermeer said...

Our totemic dead white bear, souvenir of a 1925 Alaskan cruise, succumbed to green mold after being banished from the nursery floor to a damp basement in a fit of political correctness ca. 1975.

I'm so sorry for your loss

Russell said...

I'm so sorry for your loss

Thank you. We saved the tiger.

Russell said...

In retrospect, we should have sent the green bear rug to the furriers , with a note asking them to reconfigure it as five two toed slothskin doormats

Jeffrey Davis said...

By 1963, animal skin rugs had been kitsch for a long time, but I remember the young Claudia Cardinale reviving both the fad and the animal itself (a tiger) in The Pink Panther. But the last thing the Arctic needs would be the young Claudia Cardinale.

WhiteBeard said...

Jeffrey Davis, 6/10/12, 6:49

While trophy hides may have been “kitsch for a long time” in some segments of society, their desirability remained general. Scarcity of anything is always a strong motivator for human acquisitiveness. There aren’t, or ever were, enough for all the Joneses.

A young Claudia Cardinale would be no bad thing to acquire and, as one who lives in the Subarctic, I’d see closer proximity as a decided boost to the probability of that outcome.

Russell said...

If you like to sin
With Eiiinor Glynn
You can still hook her twin
With a tiger skin.
It's not hard to err
If you have enough fur.