7
Decision-Making

Science progresses by developing and testing hypotheses. Managers who wish to use the best scientific information when making management decisions often need to generate new data. Thus hypothesis-testing is also a component of natural resource management. However, decision-making, not hypothesis-testing is the most important task of a natural resource manager. A manager must make decisions about how to manipulate a variety of entities—including wildlife, habitats, and regulations that govern consumptive and nonconsumptive use of wildlife—on the basis of available information. Time, personnel, and funding are usually insufficient to obtain all the information desired by the manager when a decision must be made. And a decision delayed is a decision made.

Ideally, there is feedback between management and hypothesis-testing. Information should be updated and revised as the results of decisions are observed, a process known as passive adaptive management. Active adaptive management involves designing management decisions so that their implementation maximizes what can be learned to guide future management decisions. Ideally, resource management is combined with continuing experiments designed to generate new knowledge.

That characterization exaggerates the distinction between science and resource management because the design of scientific experiments involves active decision-making. Indeed, the statistical literature on hypothesis-testing and experimental design explicitly adopts a decision-making framework. Nevertheless, the distinction is important.



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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management 7 Decision-Making Science progresses by developing and testing hypotheses. Managers who wish to use the best scientific information when making management decisions often need to generate new data. Thus hypothesis-testing is also a component of natural resource management. However, decision-making, not hypothesis-testing is the most important task of a natural resource manager. A manager must make decisions about how to manipulate a variety of entities—including wildlife, habitats, and regulations that govern consumptive and nonconsumptive use of wildlife—on the basis of available information. Time, personnel, and funding are usually insufficient to obtain all the information desired by the manager when a decision must be made. And a decision delayed is a decision made. Ideally, there is feedback between management and hypothesis-testing. Information should be updated and revised as the results of decisions are observed, a process known as passive adaptive management. Active adaptive management involves designing management decisions so that their implementation maximizes what can be learned to guide future management decisions. Ideally, resource management is combined with continuing experiments designed to generate new knowledge. That characterization exaggerates the distinction between science and resource management because the design of scientific experiments involves active decision-making. Indeed, the statistical literature on hypothesis-testing and experimental design explicitly adopts a decision-making framework. Nevertheless, the distinction is important.

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management THE GENERAL DECISION-MAKING FRAMEWORK A successful decision is one that achieves its goal efficiently and without causing undesirable side effects. Decision-making involves both selection of a goal and selection of a method to accomplish it. The major issues of decision-making are who decides, what is being decided, how the decision is made, and what the costs and benefits of alternative options are. Estimating costs and benefits is often difficult because one must consider the probability of compliance, ease of enforcement, management costs, ability to deal with surprises, and costs of dealing with opposition to policies. All decisions—whether for resource management or hypothesis-testing—involve a common general structure. The 2 key elements of the structure are the choice set—the alternatives that are to be considered—and the objective function—the criteria by which the choice among alternatives is to be made. Usually, various types of costs and benefits are associated with the alternatives; these are identified and defined by the objective function. Decision-making identifies and chooses the alternative that gives the best value of the objective function, subject to whatever constraints exist in the system. For decisions involving continuous variables, rather than variables that are in discrete categories, this corresponds to evaluating marginal benefits and marginal costs. In other words, the manager evaluates the costs and benefits of changes in policies. Examples include evaluating the consequences of extending or reducing a hunting season, increasing or decreasing bag limits, and increasing or decreasing the intensity of predator control or management in an area. In deciding how much effort to allocate to generating new data, a manager needs to assess the likely marginal value of new data, that is, the contribution of increases in the database to the foundation on which decisions are made. To make wise decisions, natural resource managers (all decision-makers, for that matter) need to avoid two ways in which a poor decision is likely to be made. One way to make a poor decision is to fail to identify the best among the alternatives considered. That is what people usually refer to when they say that a ''wrong" decision was made. Alternatively, a poor decision can be made because the decision-making process itself is flawed. A flawed decision-making process overlooks some relevant alternatives (that is, the best alternative is not among those being considered), uses an incorrect objective function (that is, poor criteria for judgment are used), or overlooks some relevant objectives or constraints (for example, it ignores political constraints or incorrectly characterizes the ecological traits of the target species). Both pitfalls pose dangers for natural resource managers. Inadequate or bad data can lead to poor characterization of alternatives and failure to recognize important constraints. The need to make decisions quickly can lead managers to reduce the number of options considered, and so to exclude the best possible

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management options. Legislative mandates or public pressures can force managers to exclude valuable options from the set they consider. Today, major wildlife management decisions in Alaska are made under intense scrutiny by a public that holds a wide range of views about which management goals are appropriate and how they should be achieved. Consensus about goals and methods is unlikely to be reached soon, but decision-making can be carried out in a way that is perceived to be fair. Perception of fairness is the critical ingredient that leads people to accept what they consider to be unfavorable decisions and to be willing to advance their views and preferences within the decision-making framework rather than attacking it from the outside. The following pages review the constraints under which wildlife management decisions are currently made in Alaska and evaluates processes that might assist in the making of wise decisions that have broad public support. CONSTRAINTS ON WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT DECISION-MAKING IN ALASKA Quantity and Quality of Data Biologists and managers in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) have done a credible job of assembling and interpreting data on populations of wolves, bears, moose, and caribou in Alaska. Indeed, some of the long-term data sets on wildlife populations in Alaska are among the best available anywhere. ADFG scientists regularly publish their data in peer-reviewed literature, so their data and methods of analysis are carefully scrutinized by scientists elsewhere. In game management units where predator control actions are being considered, special efforts are made to gather more-extensive data to evaluate the desirability of predator control and its likely ecological consequences. However, the database that supports management decisions is inadequate because resources, both human and financial, are insufficient to gather data intensively over an area the size of the state of Alaska, and, as pointed out previously, unpredictable environmental perturbations prevent accurate predictions of the outcome of any control effort even when extensive data sets are available. Therefore, the public must be willing to accept uncertainties in the outcomes of all management decisions, including predator control. To demand predictive certainty is biologically unrealistic. Politically Imposed Constraints on Decision-making The depth of conviction with which different views about goals and methods of wildlife management are held by Alaskans powerfully constrains management goals and methods of achieving them. Current constraints include prohibitions on same-day aerial hunting and legislation that mandates maximization of human

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management harvests of moose and caribou as the primary objective of wildlife management. In combination, existing political constraints seriously limit both the alternatives that can be considered and the methods that can be used for achieving whatever options are chosen. Although the committee recognizes that the public, through its legislative bodies, appropriately sets overall policy goals, current political constraints on decision-making are so severe that the best options are unlikely to be among those that are considered. Good decision-making is highly unlikely under these conditions. Constraints Imposed by Patterns of Land Ownership Although less than 1% of land in Alaska is privately owned, the complex distributional pattern of federal, state, and tribal lands (figure 6.1 ) generates a complex set of problems. For the most part, political boundaries do not coincide with ecological boundaries. In addition, individuals of the target species regularly move across political boundaries. As a result, appropriate and effective wildlife management decisions seldom can be made within the boundaries of single political units. To make a wise decision, the geographic scale of a problem to be solved must be identified, and all relevant data and groups of people must be assembled. The need to make decisions on relevant spatial and temporal scales is clearly recognized by ADFG, and the procedures generally used by ADFG and Board of Game are among the most thorough and open anywhere in the United States. The fact that the existing process, despite its generally favorable structure, has not been able to generate broadly supported decisions illustrates the vulnerability to disruption of processes in the current decision-making environment. The most complex jurisdictional issue is posed by the highly fragmented distribution of Native lands in Alaska. These units are too small to constitute adequate areas within which to develop biologically appropriate management plans. But, indigenous knowledge of wildlife populations in those areas is extensive, and indigenous people have sought more control over wildlife management decisions within their lands. How indigenous knowledge and political desires should be incorporated into the development and implementation of management decisions is considered in the next section. INCORPORATING INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE INTO DECISION-MAKING People who spend time observing animals where they live accumulate rich stores of knowledge about them. Local knowledge is clearly useful for biologists who conduct surveys that cover vast areas. While people trained in Alaskan Native traditions might have different methods of data collection than those

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management trained in Western scientific methods, it is not difficult to conceive of strategies for integrating these methods. However, traditional knowledge also involves less tangible, but equally important issues—those involving social values—such as, what constitutes ethical treatment of animals. Cultural traditions sometimes clash. For Alaskans of European descent, removing the tooth from a dead bear's skull is largely a matter of indifference; for Alaskan Natives, it is an affront to an animal that they hold in great respect. And yet state regulations in the 1980s required hunters in Alaska to remove and deliver the tooth of any bear they killed to state game officials. In this case, when policymakers understood how important this issue was, the regulations were modified. Ideally, policymakers will be informed of social issues and be able to avoid policies that clash with social values. Most bear hunting regulations in the 1980s were at odds with customary Native hunting practices. Hensel (1994) estimated that consequently only 3% of bear harvests were reported (see section in chapter 5 on "Brown Bear Use in Northwest Alaska" for further discussion). Clearly, policies that deviate from cultural norms are difficult to implement and often simply disregarded. This, in turn, erodes both the respect of people for and their willingness to participate in political institutions. Attention to traditional knowledge has three important facets. First, there is the potential for better information about the current status of wildlife populations. Second, insight into traditional knowledge can promote the development of more effective wildlife management policy. Finally, equity and respect for other cultures requires attention to different traditions of knowledge. A workshop on "Alaska Native Traditional Knowledge and Ways of Knowing," held in Anchorage on September 13–14, 1994, put forward the following list of issues to be included among the principles or policies governing the use of Native traditional knowledge: Research should be defined by the community. People should not be required to participate in research that violates their ethics, values, or spirituality. All participants in programs, projects, or initiatives should be treated as equals. Indigenous cultures should not be mandated to use outdated technology while harvesting wildlife only because it is traditional. Alaska Native cultures and ways of life should be the foundation for self-regulation. Alaska Natives should be active participants in management of fish and wildlife resources through co-management options, with adequate funding provided to allow such structures to function. Alaska Natives believe that co-management is the primary method by which

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management Native knowledge should be more fully incorporated into natural resource management. The term co-management refers to the sharing of responsibility for management functions by indigenous peoples, government, and other local organizations. The balance of authority and responsibility can vary considerably. At one extreme would be government control over management decisions, with limited input from indigenous peoples. Indigenous control, with limited input from the government, marks the other end. Between the extremes, a rich array of possibilities for shared decision-making authority exists. The 1994 amendments to the Marine Mammal Protection Act created a new section that authorized Alaska Natives and the federal government to enter into agreements that allow local organizations to manage the activities of hunters and to participate in research on marine mammals. Co-management under the act may range from simple agreements to discuss research topics to the development of a plan under which Alaska Native organizations conduct complete scientific investigations on their own or develop their own management plans with local enforcement. In addition to its technical meaning, co-management has an important symbolic meaning, corresponding to the strongly held desire of Native tribes and organizations to exert control over the development and implementation of management schemes on their lands. Thus, co-management has a normative meaning that describes the level of authority and control that a community believes to be appropriate. The most appropriate system of co-management in any specific situation depends on the types of "management" functions that are involved. These functions fall into 4 interrelated categories: research, regulation, allocation, and enforcement. Research includes the gathering of baseline biological and other environmental data, performing experiments, and gathering harvest data. Regulation involves restrictions on harvest seasons and locations, bag limits, methods of harvest, and which species or age and sex classes can be harvested. Allocation determines who is allowed to harvest the wildlife. Enforcement ensures that the applicable regulations are followed and identifies who is authorized to do the enforcing. On May 8–9, 1995, the Rural Alaska Community Action Program (Rural CAP) hosted a discussion on "Co-management: Establishing Principles, Policies, and Protocols" in Anchorage. Participants in the workshop recognized that, depending on the species and systems being managed and the goals of management, co-management schemes could be addressed in a variety of ways. For example, individual communities could have co-management agreements for each species that they harvest. Alaska Native regions could have agreements covering all their communities and the species they harvest. Species-specific agreements could be developed that cover the entire range of a species, or special agreements could be made for populations of a species that are judged to be threatened.

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management Finally, agreements that are consistent with ecological boundaries might be appropriate. Workshop participants agreed that co-management plans governing Native lands should be implemented by representatives of Alaska Native organizations designated by the tribes. Once selected, the representatives would meet to coordinate a comprehensive approach. The envisioned process would be a statewide one, in which ideas would come from local hunters and users, be evaluated through regional processes, and finally coordinated on the spatial scales judged to be most appropriate for the specific management goals. The Alaska Native community believes that effective conservation of fish and wildlife is possible only through co-management agreements governed by the following principles (prepared on May 8–9, 1995): Alaska Native tribes should authorize the entities that enter into negotiations of co-management agreements. The federal government should abide by the tribes' choice and negotiate only with those Alaska Native tribes or tribally-authorized Alaska Native organizations. Co-management negotiations and agreements should be based on the principle that Alaska Native tribes, the federal government, and, for species under the jurisdiction of the state, the state government operate on a co-equal and government-to-government basis. Co-management agreements should recognize and incorporate Native traditional knowledge, ecosystem-based approaches, and stewardship of resources. Research conducted or funded by the federal or state governments on Native lands should follow criteria for research developed by the Alaska Native community. There should be periodic meetings between Native and high-level federal and state government officials to discuss and review co-management. Co-management of natural resources requires people who might hold contrasting world views to devise management plans jointly. Conflicts can arise over how data about status and trends in animal populations can and should be gathered. For example, darting and anesthetizing animals and taking tissue samples, which are acceptable to Western biologists, might be regarded as being overly invasive by many Alaska Natives. Similarly, methods of monitoring harvests and obtaining data from harvested animals can be contentious. MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL MANAGEMENT OF WOLVES, BEARS, AND THEIR MAJOR PREY It is beyond both the mandate, and the expertise of the members of the committee to analyze in detail and make recommendations about the most appropriate

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Wolves, Bears, and their Prey in Alaska: Biological and Social Challenges in Wildlife Management management schemes for wolves, bears, and their ungulate prey in Alaska in cases where more than 1 political or administrative entity shares responsibility for determining and implementing management plans. Nonetheless, the ecological characteristics and requirements of the focal species suggest that local management regulations must be compatible with those of neighboring regions across which animals move. In some extreme situations, federal laws can pre-empt local management. However, because none of the species of concern is threatened or endangered, pre-emption of authority under the Endangered Species Act should not, in general, be necessary. REFERENCE Hensel C. 1994. Brown bear harvests in the western Alaska brown bear management area, 1992/1993: Statistical Information and Cultural Significance. Manuscript.