Washington, DC - Scientists involved in the controversial Pacific Northwest lynx hair investigation have been twice vindicated, first by an internal Forest Service investigation, and then by hearings held by the Washington State Senate. The biologists sent blind samples of known lynx hairs to test the accuracy of federal laboratories, not "false samples" intended to "defraud" the public.
On Wednesday, January 16th, the Washington State Senate Resource Committee Chair Ken Jacobsen told the Seattle Post Intelligencer that he "was convinced by the officials' testimony that the scientists meant no wrong and that the committee would not pursue the issue further." Sadly, the drumbeat continues on Capitol Hill, where Western Republicans want to make the supposed "biofraud" the centerpiece of their campaign to tear apart the Endangered Species Act.
A yet-to-be released internal Forest Service report obtained by PEER confirms that the biologists noted their intent to submit control samples and demonstrated that they consulted their superiors before going ahead with the sampling [the report may be viewed at www.wapeer.org/Lynx/index.html]
PEER strongly opposes the attacks by James Hansen, House Resources Chair (R-UT) Scott McInnis, Forest Health Subcommittee Chair (R-CO), Barbara Cubin (R-WY), Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), on government scientists and attempts to try this case in the media, rather than rely on legitimate investigative forums. Moreover, personnel action against these scientists based on this political pressure violates federal law. Their cries to terminate the biologists' employment have already created a chilling effect on other government scientists doing research on a host of environmental issues. These legislators' stated concern about scientific integrity merely masks their attempts to discredit all federal wildlife protection.
Eric Wingerter, National Field Director, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
"This matter has been investigated twice. Politicians know the score, but many continue to smear the reputations of these biologists to push an anti-environmental agenda."
Dr. Elliott A. Norse, President, Marine Conservation Biology Institute
"Science is about discovering truth; misleading the public, even for a good cause, is never acceptable. But it is increasingly clear that these scientists did not mislead the public, did what researchers routinely do when submitting samples to analytical laboratories, and are being attacked for purely political reasons by opponents of laws to protect our wildlife and wildlands."
Ron Nowak, retired Fish & Wildlife Biologist
"Sadly, government and media elements, who trump this matter as abuse of ESA, say nothing of the far more prevalent abuse when political-commercial interests and their Interior allies deny appropriate classification and protection of threatened species."