NCEAS report on gray wolf scientific peer review issued by US Fish and Wildlife Service

Wolf.  Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As a result of controversy surrounding the US Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) proposal to remove the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) from the endangered species list and add the Mexican Gray Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi), the Service commissioned the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) to conduct an unbiased assessment and clarify critical scientific issues.

NCEAS Associate, Steven Courtney, who has worked on ESA issues for many years, chaired the peer review panel. Four additional panelists were chosen for their expertise in such related areas as population dynamics, DNA profiling and knowledge of wolves and other at-risk species.The panel focused solely on issues of science, not on policy. The USFWS was not involved in the selection of panelists nor was it actively involved in the peer review process.

The panelists unanimously decided that the USFWS’s earlier decisions were not well supported by the available science. They acknowledged that last year’s proposed rule represented a significant technical effort and recognized its logical consistency with the science used as the primary basis for the USFWS recommendations. At the same time, the panel highlighted that the proposed rule was strongly dependent on a single publication, which was found to be preliminary and not widely accepted by the scientific community. The panelists identified additional scientific research that should be considered before proposing a change in the listing status of the gray wolf.

“An important part of NCEAS’ mission is supporting and advancing science relevant to decision-makers and on-the-ground conservation,” said Frank Davis, director of NCEAS. “We are glad that the USFWS sought our help, and we hope that the review process will help all parties moving forward.”

The full report is posted on the USFWS’s Gray Wolf Recovery website and the public comment period has been reopened.

UCSB Release

Following is a sample of the media coverage for this report:


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Posted on February 6, 2014