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Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: A Way Forward reviews the science that underpins the Bureau of Land Management's oversight of free-ranging horses and burros on federal public lands in the western United States, concluding that constructive changes could be implemented. The Wild Horse and Burro Program has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate the population sizes of horses and burros, to model the effects of management actions on the animals, or to assess the availability and use of forage on rangelands.

Evidence suggests that horse populations are growing by 15 to 20 percent each year, a level that is unsustainable for maintaining healthy horse populations as well as healthy ecosystems. Promising fertility-control methods are available to help limit this population growth, however. In addition, science-based methods exist for improving population estimates, predicting the effects of management practices in order to maintain genetically diverse, healthy populations, and estimating the productivity of rangelands. Greater transparency in how science-based methods are used to inform management decisions may help increase public confidence in the Wild Horse and Burro Program.

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Additional Information

Publisher
National Academies Press
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Published on
Sep 4, 2013
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Pages
398
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ISBN
9780309264976
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Language
English
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Genres
Technology & Engineering / Agriculture / Animal Husbandry
Technology & Engineering / Agriculture / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM free.
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Jack Ward Thomas, an eminent wildlife biologist and U.S. Forest Service career scientist, was drafted in the late 1980s to head teams of scientists developingstrategies for managing the habitat of the northern spotted owl. That assignment led to his selection as Forest Service chief during the early years of the Clinton administration. It is history�s good fortune that Thomas kept journals of his thoughts and daily experiences, and that he is a superb writer able to capture the moment with clarity and grace.

The issues Thomas dealt with in office and noted in his journals lie at the heart of recent Forest Service policy and controversy, starting with President Clinton�s Timber Summit in Portland, Oregon, dealing with the spotted owl issue, and the 1994 loss of fourteen firefighters in the Storm King Mountain fire in Colorado. Against a constant backdrop of partisan politics in the White House and Congress, Thomas discusses issues ranging from grazing in the national forests, long-term pulp timber sales in Alaska, and the Forest Service Law Enforcement Division to the New World Mine near Yellowstone National Park. He considers the timber salvage rider and its linkage to forest health, the Department of Justice and Counsel on Environmental Quality influence on Forest Service policies, and interagency management for the Columbia River Basin.

Woven throughout these excerpts from his diary is Thomas�s conviction that the effective, ethical management of wildlife depends on how the management effort is situated within the broader human context, with all its intransigence and unpredictability. Writing in 1995, Thomas says, "Things simply don�t work the way that students are taught in natural resources policy classes--not even close. . . .There is simply no way that scholars of the subject can understand the ad hoc processes that go on within only loosely defined boundaries.� Wildlife management, he says, is "90 percent about people and 10 percent about animals," and when it comes to learning about people, wildlife managers are on their own. This book is the record of how one man met that challenge.

The rapid expansion of international trade has brought to the fore issues of conflicting national regulations in the area of plant, animal, and human health. These problems include the concern that regulations designed to protect health can also be used for protection of domestic producers against international competition. At a time when progressive tariff reform has opened up markets and facilitated trade, in part responding to consumer demands for access to a wide choice of products and services at reasonable prices, closer scrutiny of regulatory measures has become increasingly important. At the same time, there are clear differences among countries and cultures as to the types of risk citizens are willing to accept. The activities of this conference were based on the premise that risk analyses (i.e., risk assessment, management, and communication) are not exclusively the domain of the biological and natural sciences; the social sciences play a prominent role in describing how people in different contexts perceive and respond to risks. Any effort to manage sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues in international trade must integrate all the sciences to develop practices for risk assessment, management, and communication that recognize international diversity in culture, experience, and institutions.

Uniform international standards can help, but no such norms are likely to be acceptable to all countries. Political and administrative structures also differ, causing differences in approaches and outcomes even when basic aims are compatible. Clearly there is considerable room for confusion and mistrust. The issue is how to balance the individual regulatory needs and approaches of countries with the goal of promoting freer trade. This issue arises not only for SPS standards but also in regard to regulations that affect other areas such as environmental quality, working conditions, and the exercise of intellectual property rights.

This conference focused on these issues in the specific area of SPS measures. This area includes provisions to protect plant and animal health and life and, more generally, the environment, and regulations that protect humans from foodborne risks. The Society for Risk Analysis defines a risk as the potential for realization of unwanted, adverse consequences to human life, health, property, or the environment; estimation of risk is usually based on the expected value of the conditional probability of the event occurring times the consequence of the event given that it has occurred.

The task of this conference and of this report was to elucidate the place of science, culture, politics, and economics in the design and implementation of SPS measures and in their international management. The goal was to explore the critical roles and the limitations of the biological and natural sciences and the social sciences, such as economics, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and political science in the management of SPS issues and in judging whether particular SPS measures create unacceptable barriers to international trade. The conference's objective also was to consider the elements that would compose a multidisciplinary analytical framework for SPS decision making and needs for future research.
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