My college roommate was a student of economics. He later became the controller of a large law firm. He has credibility with me, so I’ll relate a story from my college days.
Bob came in from an economics course and explained the law of diminishing returns to me in this way. The first beer is the best tasting, and each beer after that is not only less tasty, but also has other negative effects. Thus the biggest bang for your buck, is the first beer. With each subsequent beer the cost per unit of enjoyment is higher.
After deliberating the wolf conundrum for a while, I’ve concluded that this rule of economics can apply to wildlife management decisions and nowhere does it apply any more appropriately than with the gray wolf recovery.
Even if species have no negative effects upon mankind, the rule of diminishing returns applies, but when species have negative effects upon society, by either threatening man’s possessions or inhibiting his peace and enjoyment, the returns on recovery are diminished at an accelerated rate.
I’d claim this as a great discovery, but surely somebody has beat me to it.