Washington DC - Beatings, shootings, threats and other incidents of violence against federal resource managers, primarily in the West, rose sharply in 2000, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Overall, attacks aimed at U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Fish & Wildlife Service increased by nearly a third in 2000. Incidents at Fish Wildlife Service rose by half last year while violence increased at the U.S. Forest Service by more than a fifth and at BLM by a third. Each agency registered a number of serious incidents, including:
· BLM: BLM rangers dealt with near riot conditions in the California Desert during Thanksgiving;
· Forest Service: A Law Enforcement Officer was assaulted by four men who beat him on the head with a metal flashlight in Nevada's Pecos Canyon; and
· Fish Wildlife Service: Three Special Agents in Gambell, Alaska on St. Lawrence Island were cornered by an angry mob of walrus hunters.
"It's as if the lessons from Oklahoma City have been forgotten," stated PEER's National Field Director Eric Wingerter, whose organization has filed civil damage suits on behalf of injured workers. "Environmental conflicts in the West have grown so severe that federal workers deserve hazardous duty pay."
Because the U.S. Department of Justice has refused to implement statutory requirements that it compile and report on attacks against government workers, PEER has established its own database on violence against federal resource agency employees. Using the Freedom of Information Act, PEER has collected and tallied incident reports from each agency since 1995.