NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Endangered Species Fraud

January 21, 2002

When federal and state employees were caught planting Canadian lynx hairs during a three-year study of the wildcat's habitat in Washington state, many westerners weren't in the least surprised. Many say the U.S. Forest Service had long ago lost its ethical and scientific credibility.

  • Official admissions that employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service and Washington state falsified data confirmed what many rural westerners believe -- that agencies are doctoring species and habitat studies to stop logging, ranching and mining on the federal government's vast land holdings.
  • Rural westerners contend that they have tried to cooperate with endangered species regulations in the past, because environmentalists and their government allies claimed their species protection efforts were based on the best available scientific data.
  • But revelations of the lynx-hair fraud will "do unbelievable damage to processes all over the West," in the words of Bruce Vincent, president of Communities for a Great Northwest, based in Libby, Montana.
  • There have also been allegations of official fraud in studies involving counts of spotted owls and grizzly bears.

Owl counts are made by listening to their calls, rather than through visual sightings. This led to allegations that environmentalists who had learned to mimic the bird stationed themselves in the woods and hooted when counts were being made.

Confronted with evidence that horse carcasses were being used to attract grizzly bears during a count, the Fish and Wildlife Service promised not to do it again, according to Vincent.

Source: Valerie Richardson, "'Biofraud' Angers West, Taints Federal Stewards," Washington Times, January 21, 2002.

 

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