Feinstein demands data review


Senator Dianne Feinstein has inserted language into the 2012 fiscal year budget proposal for the Department of Science that requires the Marine Mammal Commission to respond to the latest Point Reyes National Seashore seal study. The proposal directs the commission to respond to “criticisms that the [2011 Becker] study: (1) should not have used data points for 1982–1983; (2) did not account fully for the impact of an aggressive elephant seal in the Double Point area on 2003 and 2004 harbor seal populations in Drake’s Estero; and (3) did not accurately interpret aerial photographs and public health records when converting oyster harvest records to high/low values for further analysis.” The Marine Mammal Commission has been examining controversial findings by the National Park Service since 2010, of which the Becker 2011 study is the most recent focus. Executive Director Tim Ragen wrote last week that they are still working through an analysis of the study and recent reviews of it, and expect to make a finding “in the next few weeks.”