9 Mar 2008, 12:31pm
by admin
leave a comment

Montana biologist withdraws claim of rabbit’s disappearance

Egg on His Face

By MATTHEW BROWN - The Idaho Statesman, 03/06/08 [here]

BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana biologist has withdrawn his claim in a recent study that a rabbit species has disappeared from the Yellowstone area.

Joel Berger, a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said Thursday that he has been contacted by at least six biologists and naturalists refuting his conclusions about the white-tailed jack rabbit. He said they provided photos and anecdotal evidence the rabbit still lives in the area.

“Yes, there were some left,” Berger said. “I’ve got egg on the face, absolutely.”

Berger’s study, published in January in the science journal Oryx, claimed the once-common rabbit had disappeared from the Yellowstone region sometime last century, for unknown reasons. His findings were written about by news organizations including The Associated Press.

On Thursday, Berger said he now believes the rabbits survive in small numbers within Yellowstone National Park and nearby Gardiner. He provided a copy of a letter he said will correct the record in Oryx’s April issue.

The conclusion that the rabbits had vanished was based on Berger’s own work in the Yellowstone region, historical records and interviews with park biologists and naturalists. In the letter, Berger acknowledges interviewing more people for the study “would have improved abilities to detect whether the hares still persist.”

more »

5 Mar 2008, 9:13pm
by admin
1 comment

Are the bunnies really missing?

Jackrabbit Junk Journalism

By Dave Skinner, Flathead Beacon, 03-05-08 [here]

If you were expecting a riff from me on the Whitefish doughnut war, sorry, but something else is jammed in my craw: Crummy science and even crummier science journalism.

Around Valentines Day, the Associated Press reported on Wildlife Conservation Society scientist and University of Montana professor Joel Berger’s “discovery” that jackrabbits have disappeared from Yellowstone Park.

This is news? Yep, at least to the 73 news outlets that ran the story on their Web sites. But, as the AP’s Matthew Brown duly reported, jackrabbits are “listed as a species of ‘least concern’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.”

Berger nonetheless suggested reintroducing jacks – apparently to go along with reintroduced wolves, and then of course, study the results.

My initial response to this latest ecological crisis? Turn the page. But a few days later, Park “ornithologist emeritus” and Gardiner resident Terry McEneaney wrote in the Billings Gazette he’d seen at least two Park jackrabbits in the past two days and that perhaps Berger’s bunny issue is “moot” and the species “doesn’t need the help.”

McEneaney’s critique spurred a huffy Gazette open letter from Berger suggesting “Terry read the [journal] paper first” (not the newspaper) and then comment “on the full intent of the paper rather than basing his response only on the media account. That is not responsible.”

more »

  • Colloquia

  • Commentary and News

  • Contact

  • Follow me on Twitter

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Meta