Interior probe finds no criminal intent in lynx study

spectr17

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March 02, 2002

No criminal intent found in lynx study, but probe criticizes biologists' judgment

By Robert Gehrke, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists who sent fur samples to a lab claiming they were from a rare lynx showed "a pattern of bad judgment" but didn't break the law, an Interior Department investigator said yesterday.
The Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service are tracking the rare Canada lynx to determine how many there are and where they live. Data from the four-year survey will be used to determine how best to protect the lynx, classified as "threatened."

During the 1999 and 2000 sampling seasons, seven federal and Washington state biologists sent fur samples from a captive lynx and from a bobcat pelt to the lab doing DNA testing. The biologists claimed the samples came from the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests in Washington state, where lynx do not normally live.

The biologists, who were not identified, said they were testing the lab's ability to identify lynx hair, which had been challenged in a congressional report.

But key members of Congress demanded an investigation, arguing that the biologists' actions could have tainted the study. It also could have closed parts of the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests in Washington state, where the biologists said they gathered the samples, to protect the wildcat's habitat.

Yesterday's report by Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney found no criminal intent on the part of the Fish and Wildlife Service biologists involved and said the Justice Department had declined to prosecute them.

But in a letter to Interior Secretary Gale Norton summarizing the report, Devaney said the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to administer "meaningful punishment," which he said showed the service's "bias against holding employees accountable for their behavior."

And he called the decision to give the employees involved a cash award, praising their work soon after the incident, "an incredible display of bad judgment."

Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., whose House Resources forest subcommittee will hold a hearing on the lynx study next week, called some of the findings alarming.

"The idea that these people got a merit-pay raise, in conjunction with the same lynx study they undermined no less, quite literally boggles the mind," he said.

An earlier Forest Service report said the bogus samples were caught and did not taint the lynx study. Six of the seven biologists who planted the samples have been removed from the lynx survey, and one has retired.

Norton has asked two top Fish and Wildlife Service officials to review the 3-inch-thick report and recommend remedies, department spokesman Mark Pfeifle said.

The Canadian lynx is a 3-1/2-foot-long wildcat that weighs up to 40 pounds. It has brownish-gray fur and black-tufted ears and preys on snowshoe hares. Efforts to protect lynx habitats are under way in 57 forests in 16 states.
 

Kernhuntr

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I can save the tax payers a ton of money with a "remedy", without seeing the 3" thick report. Fire all those involved for perjury and ethics violations, along with wasting my tax money. Then remind anyone else who feels the need to "show a pattern of bad judgement, that they will face the same charges.
Kernhuntr

(Edited by Kernhuntr at 5:10 pm on Mar. 3, 2002)
 

rusman66

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WOW!! They got a pay raise?   Hey I thought prostitution was illegal.  But it looks like someone is getting paid to screw us.  Arghhhh
 

songdog

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We've got a couple from Singapore staying with us for about a week.  Pretty fascinating to talk to them about crime.  

More than 1.5g of opium - death penalty

Rape - death penalty

Murder - death penalty

Attempted murder - death penalty

I asked them how many people that put on death row for them and wasn't it a pretty big burden.  They both had kind of a puzzled look on their face and said, "well, no, they just kill them".  They don't have people that have been on death row for 23 years there.  Pretty much, you're guilty, your dead.  Why wait.  Seems to deter crime pretty well.

Might be a little harsh for lynx hair fraud but fire them, fine them, whatever, quickly and significantly and see if they do it again.  Also see if anyone else thinking about doing the same doesn't reconsider.

How many of those ELF bozos that burnt down that ski place in Vail would be planning other arson attempts and puting lives at stake when the price if caught was death?  Maybe the lynx isn't that important after all????
 

RIFLEMAN

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It doesn't suprise me.  How they can justify not firing them, I don't know, but this appears to me to be a case of self-preservation.  To find fault or criminal intent in their employees would generate much more negative attention and dismantle any credibility the USFWS tries to maintain.  Pathetic.
 

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