Initially, I was pleased to see a Montana legislator embracing science in wildlife management. Scientists are chagrined to see decisions without experts’ input, often opposing scientific evidence. The White House, for example, declares climate change a hoax and ignores its effects.
I want to see policy based on science, rather than ill-informed opinion. I’d like legislators to consult biologists, climate change scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists, geologists and other scientists when representatives consider environmental and educational policy issues. Notice that I include social scientists.
Brad Tschida introduced House Bill 161 to revise Montana Code Annotated, stating that managers cannot use “social science, human dimensions, or people’s attitudes” and eliminating “social impacts” from the mandate to balance social and economic impacts. Social science is often mischaracterized, but it is an extension of natural sciences into human behavior, maintaining the same objectivity, rationalism and causal approach.
So many things are wrong with HB161. It stifles public input, decreasing citizens’ participation in governance. It flies in the face of obligations under Article II.3 (Montana Constitution) by eliminating inalienable rights from the MCA. It limits commission membership to landowners, excluding hunters, anglers and recreationists. It suggests that social science is not science — under the cover of “honoring science.”