The Washington Times - October 14, 2008, 12:40PM

What happens when a judge allows emotion to overrule sound science?

Ask the Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), the National Wildlife Federation and a number of professional biologists and you’ll get an earful.

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A federal judge recently rejected the science-based decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (F&WS) to remove the gray wolf population in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list. His Honor ignored recommendations from nationally recognized experts, the F&WS, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources which had shown that the wolf population in the region had exceeded its carrying capacity. In short, there are too many wolves and they’re walking, breathing, tooth-laden eating machines.

Biologists with the Michigan DNR have restored the state’s gray wolf population, far exceeding the F&WS recovery goal of 100 wolves in the upper Great Lakes region. But because of the wolf’s listing under the Endangered Species Act the state could not adequately manage the steadily increasing wolf packs and their expanding distribution. Imagine what happened before the judge’s decision and what now will continue to happen. There is significant depredation, say the conservation groups and game managers.

“Hunters, farmers and dog owners are concerned because they are witnessing this currently unmanageable wolf population’s impact first hand,” said MUCC deputy executive director Tony Hansen.

I suppose the plan by the Michigan DNR, upon recommendations of its wildlife managers, was to remove a few wolves — probably through some kind of hunting, either by way of a lottery system that sharply limits how many wolves could be culled out of the packs, or through the use of professional hunters.

Said Hansen, “A judge in Washington effectively took a procedural backdoor to remand the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s scientifically-rendered decision to de-list the gray wolf in the western Great Lakes Region. This ruling not only undermines science, but it is an out-of-touch intervention on Michigan’s ability to properly conserve, restore and protect natural resources based on sound scientific management.

“Michigan should have the right to scientifically preserve and manage our natural resources without intervention from judicial opinions.”

The National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Natural Resource Center director Andy Buchsbaum said, “The recovery of gray wolves in the Great Lakes region has been highly successful and shows the value of the [federal] Endangered Species Act. This ruling complicates this accomplishment and creates a quagmire for future recovery efforts.”

It goes to show the damage that can be done by one judge who allows personal feelings to interfere with sound science regarding wildlife management. It happens all the time. Animal rights activists somehow convince an ignorant jurist that deer, for example, should never be hunted even if the critters are about to eat every shrub and seedling in a rural neighborhood and are running into cars more frequently than insects meet windshields after sundown. The whole deal is kind of comparable to everyday life among humans when judges occasionally make the laws instead of simply interpreting them.

What a shame.

- Gene Mueller