Scientists on “political populations” of large carnivores

Social Sciences

Chris Darimont, March 2015. Credit: UVic Photo Services.

Scientists are calling for closer scrutiny of government reporting on wildlife populations after a review of case studies in four countries shows some governments’ selective or misleading use of facts and figures.

A group of international conservation scientists, including the University of Victoria’s Chris Darimont as lead author, reported today in a peer-reviewed opinion paper published in the journal Conservation Biology, that wildlife population sizes, trends and associated policies reported by provincial, state and federal governments can lack supporting evidence. The researchers identified what they call “political populations” of wolves in the US and Sweden, as well as grizzly bears in Romania and Canada (specifically in BC).

“We examined case studies and a pattern emerged of governments exaggerating, without empirical evidence, the size or health of large carnivore populations,” says Darimont, a UVic conservation scientist and science director at Raincoast Conservation Foundation. “We coined the term, ‘political populations,’ because such exaggerations likely serve political interests.”

According to Darimont and two co-researchers—Paul Paquet, a senior scientist at Raincoast, and Kyle Artelle, a Simon Fraser University researcher and Raincoast biologist—the former provincial government publicly dismissed scientific concerns about the grizzly bear population, claiming instead healthy populations despite a lack of supporting evidence.

Read the campus article for more on this opinion paper and Darimont’s research.

A media kit containing high-resolution photos is available on Dropbox.

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Media contacts

Dr. Chris Darimont (Dept. of Geography) at

Anne MacLaurin (Social Sciences Communications) at 250-217-4259 or

Tara Sharpe (University Communications + Marketing) at

In this story

Keywords: wildlife, geography, politics, Raincoast Foundation

People: Chris Darimont

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