The Szarek Report

The Szarek Report is a masters thesis by Harmony Szarek published in September 2015. It's actual title is a whopper but it is an important report for several reasons.

First, Ms. Szarek wasn't researching grizzlies per se, she was studying "Cognitive Heuristics", or to oversimplify, expert decision making. That she chose experts in the field of grizzly bears is a fortunate side effect of her studies that produced information of surprisingly significant value to the public.

Second, since Ms. Szarek focus of study wasn't actually grizzly bears, but rather the experts who study them, the report has none of the usual biases that come from political pressure on government-employed scientists, in fact the report seems to confirm such biases in agency science.

The key finding of concern to us is that roughly the same number of experts think that grizzlies should be uplifted from threatened status to endangered status as think the should be delisted. Overall only 21.3% of experts think grizzlies should be delisted. An overwhelming majority of  60.2% believe they should remain on the Endangered Species List.

The other key finding from the report is represented by the following chart which shows that non-government expert opinions differ greatly from state and federal agency experts.

First look at the green portion, those are the experts whose opinions are to delist grizzlies. Notice the variation between agency experts and academic experts.

Next look at the red portion; those are the experts whose opinions are to uplist grizzlies from threatened status to endanger status. 

Together the two charts above paint a picture that is at odds with the governments views.

Below are three links. The first two are non-scientific and will give you the gist of the arguments. The final link is to the report itself. For those of you who have a scientific bent, it is very interesting.

Of Bears and Biases: Scientific Judgement and the Fate of Yellowstone's Grizzlies

Jackson Hole News & Guide article on the Szarek Report

Subjectivity in Expert Decision Making: Risk Assessment, Acceptability, and Cognitive Heuristics Affecting Endangered Species Act Listing Judgments for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Grizzly Bear