12 Jan 2002 Endangered Species Act Studies May be Hoaxes Designed to Restrict Human Use of Government Lands, by Gretchen Randall
BACKGROUND: Seven officials from the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife were found recently to have submitted falsified samples of Canadian lynx hair to labs as part of a study to determine if lynx live in three national forests in Washington state. The Washington Times subsequently reported (January 7) that a taxidermist in Washington state was approached by a state Fish and Wildlife official for a sample of grizzly bear hair to submit for a study on grizzly habitat.
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: What rural Americans have claimed for years is now becoming apparent-there is a concerted effort by some government officials to use any means available to restrict use and access to federal lands such as national forests.
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: All previous endangered species studies should be re-opened to determine if they also were falsified. In the meantime, there should be a temporary injunction issued against enforcing any judgments or decisions resulting from endangered species actions.
DISCUSSION: The Canadian lynx is on the threatened species list in 16 states but not yet listed as endangered. In 1999 the three services above began conducting tests to find if lynx exist in three national forests-Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forests, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and the Wenatchee National Forest (all in Washington state). If lynx were found in these forests, restrictions could be imposed on logging, recreational uses such as snowmobiling, as well as on off-road and other vehicle usage.
Rep. James Hansen (R-Utah), chairman of the U.S. House Resources Committee, and Rep. Scott McInnis (R-Colorado), chairman of the U.S. House Forest Subcommittee have requested that the Government Accounting Office (GAO) investigate the incident. Rep. McInnis plans to hold hearings before the Forest subcommittee this spring.
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) said: “If in fact it occurred, and there’s clear evidence it did, people ought to be fired.” The employees, however, said they submitted the false samples in order to test the laboratories. They have not yet been fired but have been removed from participating in the study.
The taxidermist in Washington who was asked by a state biologist for a grizzly hair sample in March 2001 did not comply with the request and has since reported the contact to state officials.