NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Participants in Lynx Fur Hoax Got Bonuses

March 7, 2002

Scientists employed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service knowingly submitted falsely labeled samples of lynx fur in a survey of lynx populations in two Washington state national forests.

  • The General Accounting Office has issued a report saying the scientists knew they should not have done so and some supervisors were aware of what was happening, but too no action.
  • Some members of Congress are convinced they did so in order to rig the study so as to restrict recreational activities on public lands.
  • The lynx is listed as an endangered species.
  • Residents of wilderness areas in some Western states have long contended that researchers in various federal agencies have been introducing false evidence in order to skew their findings -- and lock the public out of national forests on the grounds to potential harm to endangered species.

The names of four federal biologists who participated in the scheme were included in the GAO report. Although they were initially reprimanded for their actions, they later received government bonuses for their work.

When asked why supervisors who were aware of the ploy did not take action to halt the false sample submissions, Congressman Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), chairman of the Resources Committee subcommittee on forests and forest health, replied "they did take action; they gave them bonuses."

Source: Audrey Hudson, "GAO: Lynx Fur Hoax Was Widely Known," Washington Times, March 7, 2002; Ronald Malfi (acting managing director for special investigations), "Canada Lynx Study: Unauthorized Hair Samples Submitted for Analysis," Testimony before the House Committee on Resources, GAO-02-496T, March 6, 2002.

For GAO report


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