Skip to comments.Lynx-fur furor focuses on science role
Posted on 12/31/2001 9:30:22 PM PST by jennyp
Government field biologists have unwittingly detonated the explosive tension between science and politics in land-management decisions throughout the West.
At immediate stake is the credibility of surveys to determine how widespread the threatened Canada lynx is. But the controversy also is being used by some to claim science is being manipulated to support unpopular political decisions.
The survey is being used by federal scientists to detect the presence of the threatened Canada lynx. It will play a part in determining whether logging and wintertime motorized recreation should be restricted to protect the animals.
The biologists said they were testing the laboratory's capabilities. Sending in control samples is a common practice in lab testing. But the biologists, all working in Washington state, were acting outside the rules of this particular survey. And their actions were reported inaccurately in stories widely re-circulated by the media this month.
The Washington Times, for example, reported biologists planted lynx hair on posts at lynx survey stations in the Gifford Pinchot and Wenatchee National Forests. The paper said that if a whistle-blower hadn't acted, the fake samples would have shut down public lands to protect lynx that weren't actually there.
Investigators say biologists mailed to a lab, in vials, unauthorized control samples from captive cats. Several told their supervisors about it, and one notified the lab itself.
Even if undetected, the samples would not have shut down the woods. The federal survey is just one piece of a much more complicated land-use policy calculus.
Investigators so far have found the biologists weren't trying to skew the study, but only wanted to test the accuracy of the survey lab because of questionable results in the past. The unauthorized samples sent to the lab were segregated from valid field samples, so the survey was not skewed, according to the Forest Service.
But Barbara Weber, associate deputy chief for research and development at the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C., saw real damage from what was done.
"It affects the reputation of us as an agency overall because we say we are a science-based organization," Weber said. "If people are tainting data and planting data, that speaks to the integrity and credibility of the agency as a whole and any policy we make with that data. It is huge, beyond what they thought could be an outcome of this."
Earlier survey planted doubts
The Canada lynx was listed in March, under the federal Endangered Species Act, as threatened in 16 northern states. Officials from Washington state to Maine are trying to determine the range of the animal and efforts are under way to improve lynx survival in 57 national forests.
Lynx are rare, inconspicuous and primarily nocturnal. They leave little sign, and avoid human activity. Unlike salmon, grizzly bears and other federally-protected species, relatively little is known about lynx in the contiguous United States. Even the basics, such as reliable population estimates, don't yet exist.
The U.S. Forest Service launched one lynx survey in 1998, which was discredited because the results were ruined at the lab.
After the current survey was launched in 1999, with a new lab and a new protocol, some biologists said they sent in hairs from captive cats to find out if the new lab in Missoula, Mont., could correctly identify them.
Jeff "Bernie" Bernatowicz, a Washington state fish and wildlife field biologist, said in an interview he told his supervisor that he sent in hairs from a captive lynx.
"I didn't trust the results of the lab, so I wasn't going to tell them I was sending in a blind sample. A 1998 study came out with the results of lynx up and down the Cascades, and that didn't seem logical. Most of us doubted it. How could there be so many lynx?"
Weber said she knew the faulty 1998 survey had shaken the confidence of field biologists.
"People in the Forest Service I think are confused as to who to believe and what to believe, and if I were them I would be confused too," Weber said. "I think it played a large role in terms of people taking things into their own hands."
But their doubts were no excuse, Weber said.
"If they had concerns, they could have raised those concerns with the supervisors and asked, 'How does this study work, and how can we know that the lab is accurately recognizing samples?' "
In a signed affidavit collected by federal investigators, Bernatowicz stated his supervisor knew he sent in the sample collected from a lynx that had escaped from a Union Gap fur farm and was being held in a cage until its owner could get it.
The supervisor expressed "some concern," but then allowed him to send in the sample, Bernatowicz stated.
Federal field biologists working in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Southwest Washington also sent in unauthorized control samples, snagged off a wire fence around captive lynx at a wildlife park. A state fish and wildlife biologist also sent in a hunk of a bobcat pelt in his office.
When the results for the bobcat pelt came back as unidentifiable, the biologist, Tom McCall, didn't try to keep its origin a secret. He laughed and said, "Those samples were taken from old Harry."
His supervisor whose name was blacked out in the investigative report said of the unauthorized control samples:
"I didn't think it was any big deal. This was due to the fact that I did not believe Mr. McCall was trying to tamper with the integrity of the survey by creating a false impression that lynx existed in the survey. In retrospect I can understand why submitting false information to the survey could color any other information sent in."
The first the lab learned of the unauthorized samples was in September 2000. A Forest Service biologist on his last day on the job before retirement phoned the lab to say biologists were concerned about how the survey was going, and were sending in fur from captive lynx as a control sample.
Workers at the lab called the Forest Service, which launched an investigation last February that was completed in June, and determined that the survey was not skewed. The biologists were counseled, but not disciplined.
The incident wounded the scientific credibility of state and federal agencies that turn to science to defend politically unpopular decisions, from turning off irrigation ditches for salmon to silencing chain saws for spotted owls.
For some, the incident fueled long-held suspicions.
"There are always questions about the validity of science in any of these studies, that it is biased one way or another," said Nicholas Haris, western-states representative of the American Motorcyclist Association, which advocates for off-road vehicle access to public lands. "Everybody seems to back their decisions with science, but a lot of people feel a lot of these things are predetermined before it starts."
The scandal metastasized in just one week this month after results of the Forest Service investigation were leaked to the media after congressional briefings.
Members of Congress and secretaries of two federal agencies have called for investigations by inspectors general as well as the General Accounting Office. Washington state lawmakers also have called for a hearing.
Daniel Kemmis, director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West, a politically moderate think tank based in Missoula, said the reaction should come as no surprise, given the extent to which agencies and user groups have resorted to the mantra of "good science" to do the heavy political lifting in natural-resource disputes.
"I've become more and more perturbed by the way that people on both sides of the political fence are always calling on science as the final arbiter on natural-resource decisions," Kemmis said. "To me it's either cynical or naïve."
Appeals to science are often an effort to short-circuit or skip the hard, political work of building collaboration, Kemmis said.
Even biologists can't forget they work in a political context, said Jeffrey Koenings, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Koenings blamed the scandal on arrogance among biologists who either didn't appreciate how their actions might be interpreted by others, or didn't care. "We make hard decisions that affect people's lives and if you are going to affect someone's life you have to make sure it is predicated on hard scientific evidence and that you have the resource in mind, and not someone's personal agenda. That's what so damaging about this, it calls all that into question," he said.
Koenings has apologized for the incident, which he said was isolated.
The scandal will undermine support for species-recovery efforts unless investigations restore the agencies' scientific credibility, said Rep. Jim Buck, R-Joyce, Clallam County, chairman of the House Republican Caucus.
Credible science is the only effective ammunition in conservation battles, Buck said. It is the only way to accurately scope the nature and extent of environmental problems, discern an appropriate response, and sell it politically to an often wary public, Buck said.
"It's the only thing you have to hang your hat on."
Trap these fed f!ck biologists in some inhumane trap and skin them alive. Their Pelts will not be too warm, but the world will be a little less sick and evil.
Use of the term is a conscious decision on my part to drive home the point.
The Hudson piece includes confessions from USFS insiders that they planted the evidence. Smoking gun.
I had the opportunity to exhaustively review and take apart the USFS DEIS for the "Roadless Area Conservation" initiative that His Slickness (in concert w/ the greens) implemented through executive order in the closing days of Term 2.
In that document, Reed Noss (the guy who cooriginated the idea of island biogeography and ecosystems [read "fragmented" "core areas" "Zones of cooperation", etc.]) was quoted extensively.
This was presented as an authoritative source, regardless of the fact of how Noss is funded to do his "research" nor how flaky and arrogant he is.
How can the general public have faith in land management agencies when the EISs produced are so skewed and that the conclusions that people like Noss present are suspect because of who pays them???
My point Jenny, is that this is not about the "scientific method." It is about corruption and the control of land. Our freedom is inextricably linked to the land.
That's what i am trying to get across. When one has seen case after case of this kind of crap going on, i kinda lose a sense of wonder at the particular mechanics of a particular scandal. That is just a slice of the cow paddy pie.
On a related note, last summers Phi Theta Kappas Campus Honors Program held on the SPJC Tarpon Springs Campus did a marvelous job of raising the participants consciousness for this years honors topic: Our Complex World: Balancing Unity with Diversity. The guest speaker was M. J. M., a columnist for the St. Petersburg Times. She gave us all valuable insights into the necessity of what she called contrarian journalism and its duty to shock a complacent public into seeing that the world really is not as nice a place as people would like to believe.
Her talk was followed by a lively question and answer session. In it she demonstrated just how integrated our society has become by characterizing as two ethnic groupswhite and black-- a group comprised of African-Americans, Anglos, Greeks, Hispanics, Indians, Iranians, and Italians. Its great progress that ethnicity is seen entirely in terms of skin color and that national origin and language are no longer distinguishing characteristics, such as when her Italian grandfather suffered discrimination in the earlier part of the century. I asked her if she didnt think that a change from when Italian was considered a distinct race to now when it was just a last name wasnt an indication of how much things had improved in a so-called racist nation. No, she said. Things are just as bad as they ever were except that now it's even more insidious because it's not as obvious. One wondered, though, looking at the gradation of skin tone present just how she was assigning whom to which category or why that was even necessary. One participant rose to his feet and declaimed loud and long on how what we really need is love, you know, like what people were saying in the 60's; if we only had that, he said, racial hatred and inter-ethnic misunderstanding would then just disappear.
Before breaking for lunch, we formed groups that represented herds of deer. We alternately decimated and populated our herds by rolling dice and selecting fate or fortune cards. Our Tau Zeta chapter triumphed as Most Viable Deer Herd by remaining equidistant from extinction and overpopulation by the end of our stack of cards. This taught us that survival depends entirely upon a roll of the dice and whatever happens to be in the cards and that reason, learning, and foresight through experience are completely irrelevant.
During lunch I overheard the all-you-need-is-love advocate discussing his passion for the environment with the afternoon speaker, a biologist for the state of Florida. He told her that if he ever saw anyone kill an endangered _____ fill in the blank (I had not heard the name of the species in peril), he would not hesitate to put that person to death or at least knock him out, lock him in the trunk (whether his own trunk or that of the perpetrator of eco-cide was not clear), and then call the authorities. The biologist nodded her head gravely and agreed that mans abuse of nature was a serious problem. Its a good thing to know that there are still issues of life and death whose importance transcends the trivialities involved in inter-ethnic relationships and trans-cultural understanding.
After lunch, the honors topic was further reinforced by the aforementioned state biologist of Florida. Before her slide presentation of Floridas varied and fragile ecosystems and the effects on them of human depredation, she prefaced her remarks by telling us that like most biologists she was leery of technology. One exciting slide showed state biologists burning off large sections of forest in an attempt to duplicate what they thought nature would have done had humans not been around. The technology used was impressive.
We then took part in a role playing gamethe nutritional struggle of the black bear. Three participants were designated as blind bear, crippled bear, and mother-with-dependents bear. Going outside, we found a section of lawn covered with cards of colored construction paper bearing letters and numbers. Our task was to collect these with the following provisos: we couldnt run or take more than one card at a time, we had to return each one separately to our den before getting another, we couldnt take cards from some other bears den because, according to the state biologist, bears wouldnt do that (but we could shove another 'bear' out of the way), and we had to wait until all of the cards were collected to find out what their coding meant. The letters stood for types of food and the numbers for pounds of it. We totaled our caloric intake to see whether or not we survived. Of course, the crippled bear, the blind bear, and the single female bear handicapped by dependents failed to survivethus closely paralleling the Drama of Nature. This role playing taught us that bears are altruistic (though competitive, misogynistic, and insensitive to other bears with disabilities), are incapable of distinguishing one food from another, and always wait till they get home before eating what they have gathered. The exercise was used to underscore the necessity for government programs that would address inquities and preserve diversity.
Though I was initially a little unsure of just what Phi Theta Kappa would entail, this past summers Campus Honors Program has allayed my fears and showed me what a great time still lies ahead.
I hope John Dingell has been notified!
From "Preliminary Report Assessment of Scientific Basis of Management Recommendations regarding Willow Flycatcher Conservation in the Sierra Nevada Framework DEIS" by Fred Dahm, Professor of Statistics, Texas A&M and Wolfgang Pittroff, Asst. Prof. of Range Animal Science UC Davis.
Literature used as a basis of assessment - A "relatively high number of reports on surveys, management activities, observations, and management recommendations which are NOT peer-reviewed. This work is not the result of planned scientific research, and generally not published in widely accessible sources. Such material lacks all aspects of properly verifiable information and is not acceptable as a basis for management decisions."
"The second segment of literature on WF in the Sierra Nevada, peer reviewed publications, is extrmely small. It is noted that none of the studies on which the key allegations contained in the SNF DEIS are based appeared in a premier ornithology, zoology or wildlife management journal."
..."None of the papers listed in Table 1 was free of problems in research design, statistical analysis and appropriateness of conclusions. A clear pattern of improper citations emerged, which eventually led to the impression created by later publications that certain livestock effects on WF had been scientifically proven, while in fact they were never described as anything but speculation in the original publication."
In the conclusion, the authors state: "We could not find any scientific support for any of the statements implicating cattle grazing as the key threat to WF in the Sierra Nevada contained in the DEIS."
Note: The Sierra Nevada Frame has just recently gone through, regardless.
At least some people have gotten wise to this, as in the recent case of the California tiger salamander. (We should all send the Commissioners a note commending them on their sanity in upholding standards of science.) article Salamander kept off endangered species list - Lack of population figures dooms petition before Fish and Game, to landowners' relief By Paul Payne The Press Democrat
State Fish and Game commissioners Friday rejected a bid to list the California tiger salamander as a state endangered species, saying petitioners did not supply sufficient evidence to show the amphibian is at risk in Sonoma and 22 other counties.
The decision was lauded by farming, wine industry and development advocates who feared such a listing would place burdensome restrictions on land use in Sonoma County and bring financial hardship in the millions of dollars.
"We're extremely pleased the commission found weaknesses in the case," said Pam Giacomini of the California Farm Bureau Federation. "It had us worried."
Commissioners voted 2-1 to reject the petition brought by the Center for Biological Diversity to list the salamander after the group failed to provide population estimates.
The vote ran contrary to recommendations by the agency's staff and attorney, a rarity in Fish and Game Commission proceedings.
A vote to apply the listing would have launched a yearlong process to determine whether to permanently list the species. To comply with the endangered species law, landowners and developers in Sonoma County would have had to get permits from Fish and Game before building homes, converting pasture land to vineyards or doing any other activity that might disrupt salamander habitat.
But a string of scientists could not convince Commissioners Mike Chrisman and Michael Flores that studying development and farming on land that is believed to be home to the amphibian is an accurate way to determine its numbers.
Commissioner Sam Schuchat supported the proposed listing.
Preservationists strongly criticized the commission's decision, saying the vanishing salamander, which makes its home in wetlands and grassy plains, is on the way to becoming extinct.
"It's a huge blow," said Sonoma State University biologist Phil Northen, who urged the commission to list the salamander. "An enormously important piece of biodiversity will be lost."
Kassie Siegel, a lawyer for the Center for Biodiversity, said her group would return with a new petition or file a judicial appeal to reverse what she said was an illegal decision.
"The Commission ignored the advice of its legal counsel and its expert staff," Siegel. "It's extremely likely we'll seek judicial review."
The petition to list the salamander was brought in July by the group, which has warned for years that the 8-inch-long, black-and-ivory-striped creature is facing extinction.
After reviewing the petition, Fish and Game staff recommended that the commission consider the salamander for the California Endangered Species List, which includes 287 species including the bald eagle and the California condor.
Sandra Morey, chief of Fish and Game's habitat planning branch, said her findings were based on the Center for Biological Diversity's report, which said salamander habitat across the state had decreased by about 65 percent thanks to urban sprawl.
But biologists admit there have been no studies that precisely pinpoint the locations or populations of the elusive creature, which comes out only at night.
Morey said getting a reliable population estimate would be a difficult task.
Morey's conclusion was backed by commission Assistant Attorney General William Cunningham, who said the lack of specific population figures does not invalidate the petition. Petitioners merely had to prove the possibility that a trend exists, he said.
Commissioners Chrisman and Flores refused to make the salamander a candidate for the endangered species list without the numbers.
"For me to be comfortable, I'm going to need some population data," Chrisman said. "The petition falls short."
Last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the tiger salamander as endangered in Santa Barbara County. Landowners and county officials there have since been dealing with a new regulation by the federal agency that they say has resulted in expensive mitigation demands and sometimes outright roadblocks for developers, farmers and grape growers.
In our own local case of California coho, we have not been as lucky. The petition for listing as a California Endangered Species has been accepted and is under further review. This is despite state agency statements that "Historical figures of statewide coho salmon abundance were essentially guesses made by fisheries managers, based on limited catch statistics, hatchery records, and personal observations of runs in various streams."
Of course, the same paucity of data existed at the time of the federal listing of the same coho. That didn't seem to phase federal scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service: Article by Christine Souza Ag Alert
Donald Reck, a fisheries biologist for NMFS, spoke of coho salmon population estimates and the difficulty that comes with attempting to catch and therefore count adult coho during their spawning migration. During his presentation he was questioned by one [National Academy of Science]committee member.
"That (overhead of data projected on the screen) says to me, you don't know how many salmon there are, you don't know what would constitute a viable population, you don't know the relationship between salmon populations and the flow in the Klamath River, which then says to me you have no idea what is going on with [or] how to make any decisions on flow in the river based on what's going on with the salmon. Have I misunderstood or have you left something out?," the committee member said.
Reck replied by pointing out the amount of effort that the NMFS science center spent developing a status review of coho salmon populations.
"It was peer reviewed and they came up with a determination that basically said 'the fish are threatened' and I am taking that at its value," Reck said. "Do we know exactly how many coho return to the Klamath River every year? No. Do we know how many coho salmon return to each tributary? No. Am I comfortable with the amount of information we have on all of this? Absolutely not. But that is sometimes where we live as we implement the Endangered Species Act."
This was the science that was the basis for taking water from our Klamath Basin farmers last year and is now being used by the state to take water from the remaining downriver farmers. more information
Stop enviro-nazis terrorism, now !!
Freedom Is Worth Fighting For !!
The Right Of The People To Keep And Bear Arms Shall Not Be Infringed !!
An Armed Citizen, Is A Safe Citizen !!
No Guns, No Rights !!
Molon Labe !!
Happy New Year !!
Here's one example (the only one I read so far). I can see why deep ecology is an evil ideology. However, that just makes me skeptical of environmentalists in general terms. Are all biologists "deep ecologists"? Perhaps. Perhaps all Muslims are untrustworthy murderers. Perhaps all Christians are unthinking creationists...
But I just can't forget the original Wash. Times article, which got the whole story rolling of the biologists planting lynx hair on the scratching posts in the wild. It basically put that claim out, said the biologists were "counseled", and the rest of the article was just quotes by antienvironmentalists about how bad enviros are in general. Then other articles came out that seem to get their facts straigh out of the Wash. Times article.
But after reading the Seattle Times article, which says they actually put them into sample vials & (in at least one instance) labeled them in a way that they could never have gotten added to the overall statistics, the original Wash. Times story suddenly looks a lot like its own spin vehicle! Do you still believe they put the lynx hair on the scratching posts?
Again, I want to find out what the actual internal investigation (that several of these articles imply that they have seen) actually says.
A couple months ago, Pericles posted a WSJ article claiming that al-Qaeda had tested uranium in Hilat Koko, a small village in Turkish-held N. Cyprus. But after researching this claim, I & another freeper discovered the author of this widely-quoted WSJ article had misread the Kenyan Embassy bombing trial transcript! In fact there is no Cypriot village called "Hilat Koko". Hilat Koko is a neighborhood in Khartoum, Sudan, where al-Qaeda had a laboratory before they got kicked out of Sudan. They did get uranium from a black market dealer in Khartoum, and they apparently tested it in their lab in Hilat Koko, in Khartoum. Then in the next paragraph the questioning turned to al-Qaeda business interests in Cyprus. The WSJ reporter got her facts mixed up!
Now, in the process of researching this story, I learned about the story of the division of Cyprus for the first time, and as a result I do blame the Turks, which should make certain Greek freepers happy. But the claim that a dirty nuke bomb was tested in Turkish Cyprus is just plain flat out false.
Is the truth important, even if the false version would have made it easier to defend a wider truth? Of course it is.
No, not all biologists are deep ecologists, but increasing numbers of them are. It is a religion being infused into public schools as a matter of Department of Education policy originating at the UN. Most resource biology and environmental studies departments are now dominated by the philosophy. It is because most such departments are now nearly 50% social scientists (sometimes a majority), and many of them are avowed socialists spouting that very philosophy. Don't believe me, go look. In the not-too-distant future it won't be possible to earn an advanced degree without proper obeiscance to deep ecology. I have watched Bruce Babbit mouth such blather to a roomful of Stanford law students and the lap it up.
Not only does that philosophy dominate universities, it is ubiquitous at the UN and the IUCN. The Earth Charter echoes precisely the central tenets of the philosophy as originally articulated by Mssrs. Naess and Sessions. So, I don't think it quite fits the model of "paranoid theory" as neatly as you intimated. Didn't you?
Oh yes, you did: Perhaps all Muslims are untrustworthy murderers. Perhaps all Christians are unthinking creationists...
Give me a break. If you are going to argue that way, this is the last post I will address to you. You owe me an apology for that kind of crap.
I have personlly investigated false listings of endangered species. I have seen the faked data. I personally know the actors. I have the documentation from the original sources. I have published that documentation. The scientists who produced other papers, falsely cited in the decision to list, have endorsed my book and agreed that both the process and the data were fraudulent.
Is that good enough for you?
So, when I have seen AT LEAST a half-dozen similar fraudulent listings, it starts to develop into a pattern. Upon seeing this case and its flimsy claims to an unsubstantiated interest in scientific rigor, its obvious ideological and professional motives to commit such a fraud (a profit interest), the manner in which it fits the pattern of similar actions elsewhere, the lack of a professional alternative for these employees, and the prior record of the individuals involved and their associations, then the predisposition in the conclusion and the burden of proof starts to shift.
Now, consider how hard it is to get a story like this one publicized and that the USFS is both conducting its own investigation and resisting any oversight. Sorry, it's going to take one heck of an iron-clad case to get me to agree that our lynx biologists deserve anything less than a prompt termination (if nothing else for incompetence) and possibly prosecution under racketeering laws.
Finally, I want you to consider the massively destructive environmental impacts of such listings, the real reason I wrote my book. Fire conflagration, followed by massive weed infestations, destruction of animal habitat, and enormous secondary consequences to both, especially erosion. Note the export of environmental problems to unregulated countries elsewhere and the social consequences to the destruction of a way of life for people with few options. Consider also that the political and financial sponsors of such listings have both a profit interest and the desire to control every aspect of your life and have said as much in writing.
Perhaps jennyp is too willing to believe the Seattle Times.
The Official Version from WDFW states that they can't speak for FS or FWS but their people got their samples from a pelt and a captive linx.
JP, LOL!!! Thanks! I needed that. Happy nw year. Peace and love, George.
It's just that in this particular news item, there are two distinctly different versions of what happened: 1) Biologists planted lynx fur on trapping posts in the wild, which would obviously be a fraudulent attempt to skew the numbers, or 2) biologists put lynx fur samples into sample vials & labeled them in such a way that they never could have been included in the report's numbers, which does not strike me as inherently fraudulent at all.
This is not just a matter of 2 different characterizations of the same story - it's not just 2 competing spins. These are two mutually contradictory sets of specific, hard, factual claims! One of them has to be factually wrong. This is what interests me about the story.
Maybe the confusion comes from this: The 2 WA State biologists were the ones who put them in sample vials with the bogus ID #s - reckless perhaps, but otherwise innocent - which leaves the 5 federal biologists. Maybe they were the ones who put lynx fur on the scratching posts themselves - which would explain where the Wash. Times reporter got that claim from.
CO, IMO all of these stories suffer from a common flaw: None of them completely make clear which set of biologists did which specific act, and so we get 2 conflicting factual claims about what "they" did. But there is no single "they", is there?
These lynx threads have been long on blanket condemnation of envirofascists, which is fine & true. But I saw precious little analysis of the actual facts of the story. Which is why I started this thread in the first place. OK?
If a researcher put 16 ounces of lead in a gallon of latex paint, would these "Forest Service" types claim that the survey was not skewed?
It has to be skewed by intrusive data.
Get these evil humans out of my forests.Animals have more rights than them.
Which should make you more suspicious of the agency than anyone else. They could have fixed it all with a detailed press release and a show of documentation. As it is, they claim to have acted in a manner that would have required such documents to exist. If they aren't there, cry foul until they do or hang themselves further. In that respect, the WT article was part of the process. Do you think we would ever find out the truth without the publicity?
These lynx threads have been long on blanket condemnation of envirofascists, which is fine & true. But I saw precious little analysis of the actual facts of the story. Which is why I started this thread in the first place. OK?
My concern with your posts has been that they betrayed too much of a propensity to give the agencies the benefit of the doubt (much less the Seattle Times). The tone you assumed seemed more likely to suppress exposure of facts than reveal them.
It also seems as if you hold the belief that it is possible to reconstruct an objective truth. I doubt that it is. I understand your interest in obtaining facts, but now that so much time has expired with these people still at work, still having the opportunity to alter, produce, or destroy evidence, would you trust the documents they produce now?
The problem is, the agency probably isn't trustworthy (at least, that is my experience). So how do you get facts when that agency is conducting their own investigation while obstructing any independent verification? How do you force that oversight without shining the light of publicity on them? How does one do that without either speculating or going with what little one has? Lacking hard facts, probability is all we do have and maybe all we will ever get.
Some may call that unethical as a standard by which to impugn these biologists, and in an isolated case it surely would be. Please note however, that ALL the requirements (and then some) for a case of circumstantial evidence appear to be in hand: motive, means, and opportunity, to which we can add prior record (on the part of agency personnel) and the resistance to external examination of the witnesses and evidence. Under such circumstances as those, taking immediate action to suspend the employees is not only appropriate, it shoud be mandatory. Once it was a criminal investgation, the agency would have to submit the evidence to an independent party. The USFS certainly hasn't made a practice of giving landowners that benefit of the doubt before assessing fines!
I'd just be happy to find out who it was Audrey Hudson meant put the hair on the scratching posts vs. who put them in the vials. Presumably what paperwork there was originally still exists, and the WA people's claim that the planted fur was labeled with a "safe" ID could be verified. That would be something.
Meanwhile, on the other thread, No More Gore Anymore pointed out that if they were suspicious of false positives coming from the lab, they should've planted a bobcat sample to see if the lab would score that as a lynx. That makes perfect sense! (& therefore hurts badly the biologists' claim, especially since it was 3 different groups of people supposedly making the same logical error.)
Thanks for your thorough responses. It's been a fascinating discussion. I have faith the truth will pretty much get shaken out of the mix eventually.