Beyond the killing of the Profanity Peak Pack lies a second injustice, the slaughter of academic freedom.
In his article, “The Profanity Peak Pack: Loss of wolves and academic freedom,” ecologist George Wuerthner touches on issues far broader than just the destruction of a wolf pack in the state of Washington. Here’s a sample:
Dr Wielgus is a much respected and published predator ecologist whose on-going research has challenged traditional ideas about predator management. But when Wielgus stated that a particular livestock operator had “elected to put his livestock directly on top of (the wolves’) den site…” efforts were made to silence and discredit him.
The Wielgus character assassination is merely the latest a long sordid history of natural resource interests interfering with, and attempting to suppress research that challenges their hegemony and control of public resources.
It’s important that media, citizens, and others “follow the money.” Whether as blatant as the effort to discredit Dr. Wielgus or subtler, these industries make it clear there are sidebars to your research and what you can say or publish.
To believe that agency “professionals” whether wildlife biologists working for state wildlife agencies or foresters working for the Forest Service or range conservationists working for the BLM are presenting complete objective information is naïve.
However, it goes beyond the agencies since they often fund academic researchers. So if you are a forestry professor at Oregon State University, you know that it is not wise to criticize logging or the Forest Service policies. If you are a wildlife professor you had better not challenge hunting and state wildlife agencies. And if you are a range professor, well you know that cows are God’s gift to mankind so what else do you need to know.
The point is that one must follow the money. As Upton Sinclair noted long ago, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.