Mawdsley et al. (2018) respond disapprovingly to our 2018 review of 667 wildlife management systems across Canada and the United States, which found that many of these systems lacked the scientific hallmarks of clear objectives, evidence, transparency, and independent review. Although we strongly agree with several of Mawdsley et al.'s points about the role of science in management, their response suggests confusion about three elements of our approach that we clarify herein: (i) the selection of hallmarks, (ii) the role of science in wildlife management, and (iii) our engagement with wildlife agencies. We contend that both critics and defenders of the current approach to wildlife management in Canada and the United States similarly desire rigorous management that achieves social and ecological benefits. Our original study-which used a clear approach to define hallmarks of science-based management, employed a reasonable set of indicator criteria to test for them, and was based on data available to the general public on whose behalf management is conducted-found evidence that the current approach falls short. However, it also provided a framework for addressing shortcomings moving forward. We suggest that advancing discussion on the operational role of science in management, including clarifying what “science-based management” actually means, could curtail practitioners and critics of the status quo talking over each other's heads and encourage all parties to work constructively to improve the governance of wildlife at a continental scale.