Scarred for life: the other side of the fence debate


Cameron L. Aldridge, Mark S. Boyce, and Richard K. Baydack


Wildlife Society Bulletin 32(1):92-103; 2004


Managing prairie grouse has been largely a reactive process without any “true”management
experiments being implemented, thereby limiting our ability to learn from management
and enhance conservation efforts for declining prairie grouse populations. In
a few cases where the potential existed for a passive or active adaptive approach, monitoring
was insufficient to detect effects of changes in management practices. Similar
problems appear to occur at planning stages in attempts to implement adaptive management
for prairie grouse populations, preventing proper consideration of sound
adaptive experiments that advance learning. Successful adaptive management begins
with stakeholder gatherings following a policy planning process, which includes many
steps, beginning with goal identification and understanding of uncertainties and culminating
in model simulations to understand potential management policies. By following
this process, the opportunity to implement successful management experiments
can be enhanced. We discuss the successes and failures of prairie grouse management
using 2 case studies, 1 for prairie sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus) in
Manitoba and 1 for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in southern
Alberta. We describe ways in which active adaptive management could improve our
understanding of prairie grouse population declines and outline a policy planning
process that, if followed, will allow adaptive management to be successfully implemented,
enhancing prairie grouse management and conservation.