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,Today Ethon flew in with the air Email from 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
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.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.
Hope this is helpful.
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.