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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. [thread here] 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.

So, is this a story of corruption by gov't scientists, or a case study of how bad reporting can create a scandal out of nothing?

I don't know yet, but the initial stories claimed the scientists had placed lynx hair on the scratching posts out in the wild. This would've clearly been an attempt at fraud. But now it looks like they simply put control samples into some of the sample containers they sent to the lab.

In fact, it sounds like the field biologists did this because they were skeptical of the labs in light of the discredited 1998 study that had claimed there were lynx as far south as Oregon. Unfortunately, all I've seen on every lynx thread here on FR is cynical riffing by the uninformed on the original claims of fraud. Doesn't anybody here have any hard facts about the biologists in question? Does anybody here know if sending a control sample to a lab is good procedure in a case like this? It sounds like it would be to me. (Apparently their only sin was to do this on their own, in violation of the protocol for the study. Discipline them for that, OK. But where's the fraud?)

Then somehow the story gets to the press & gets mutated from "skeptical scientists overstep bounds" to "SCIENTIST FRAUD!!!" Incredible sloppiness by Audrey Hudson (Wash. Times reporter) if this article's characterization of the incident is true.

I guess there's going to be Congressional hearings on this case. (Sheesh!) Well, at least the truth will come out, presumably.

1 posted on 12/31/2001 9:30:22 PM PST by jennyp
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To: jennyp, Carry_Okie, redrock, kattracks, kitchen, lowbridge, backhoe, blackie, GrampaDave, SierraW
More than that, Jenny Dahling.

More like control of land by corrupt bureaucrats.

Following is a part of a FReepmail i just received that discusses the situation. one of the addressees on this post sent it. He has my profound gratitude. Read and learn, Jenny.

Mark, do you want to weigh in here?

Saw the thread, but I'll review for updates. It is a local issue because of the plan to turn the Routt NF into a lynx study area.

Several years ago, the FS and the CO Division of Wildlife studied the forests and determined that there was no chance of success here. The last lynx was trapped before WW I, and there haven't been any snowshoe rabbits for about as long. I saw a snowshoe rabbit in the White River NF about 20 years ago and almost fainted. Anyway, it seemed that the lynx issue was settled until last year. I lost my contact info, but the gist was that, at a public meeting, the FS announced that they were going to make the Routt a lynx study area. When the audience pointed out that there was nothing for them to eat, the FS replied, "Ya, so what?" It isn't really about lynx; it's about banning motorized vehicles, chainsaws, hunting, etc. I hope for a connection between the criminal/feds in WA and the local decisions, as a way to get them set aside.

Guess who hobnobs with the FS types and conducts rulemaking meetings behind closed doors and then offers them to the "public" via a consensus building technique (a la the "Delphi Technique")?

Do your homework lady. The "Scientific Method" (tm) hasn't a chance against envirofascism.

2 posted on 12/31/2001 9:46:40 PM PST by sauropod
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To: jennyp
This article from the Seattle P-I (Dec 18) doesn't specify scratching post vs. sample vial...
Scientists' 'wild hair' really wasn't

Fur from tame lynx was inserted in samples to test laboratory's ability

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

By LISA STIFFLER
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

Snowmobilers and timber groups are wondering if government biologists have cried "lynx."

State and federal biologists recently admitted to planting fur samples in a survey to determine the distribution of Canadian lynx in national forests. Three samples taken from captive cats were added to samples reportedly found in the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests.

But the biologists, who notified interested parties of what they did, said the samples were added to make sure the lab analyzing the fur was able to successfully detect lynx with its DNA analysis.

"It's a way of testing if a lab knows what it's doing," Doug Zimmer, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lacey, said yesterday. "It was not an attempt to put lynx where they're not."

Lynx were found in the Okanogan National Forest in the survey, but not the two forests to which the samples were added. The false samples were removed from the study and did not taint its outcome. Samples were collected again this year.

If lynx -- which have protection as a federally threatened species -- had been found in Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests some activities, including snowmobiling and tree cutting, could be curtailed.

The elusive cat, with its broad, furry paws, is well-adapted to hunting snowshoe hares through snowy drifts. The snowmobiles pack the drifts and give unfair advantage to other predators competing with lynx for prey. Thickets of lodgepole pine need to be maintained as habitat for the hares.

Even if the lynx were shown to reside elsewhere in Washington, changes in land use would come slowly and would not necessarily be severe.

"Nothing would change overnight," said Rex Holloway, spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service.

Chris West, vice president of the timber group the American Forest Resource Council, said he wasn't sure the government biologists were trying to falsify results, but was concerned about the study.

"There's already been some funny business going on with the lynx," he said.

A few years ago, an Oregon lynx study performed by a contractor hired by the Forest Service was called into question, West said. The contractor claimed to find lynx, but the results could not be validated and the contractor was not paid.

The seven biologists who were part of the government study included employees of the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Fish and Wildlife. An investigation was conducted into the adding of the samples as soon as it was discovered, and the scientists involved were taken off the project, agency spokesmen said.

"This is a very, very isolated incident," Zimmer said.

The samples falsely added to the survey came from two lynx, one belonging to a federal scientist doing research and the other from a wild-animal park, he said. "If you were really going to skew something, you would use samples that you picked off the wild."

In experiments, "control" samples can be added to test techniques, but their addition was not included in the protocol for this particular survey.

The incident could undermine the integrity of the research.

"It jeopardizes the whole process of trying to protect the lynx in the first place," said Glenn Warren, president of the Washington State Snowmobile Association, a group of about 2,300 registered members and their families.

"We always like to see good science prevailing."

3 posted on 12/31/2001 9:54:55 PM PST by jennyp
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To: jennyp
This was all a big mistake. It was supposed to read "Linux are rare, inconspicuous and primarily nocturnal."

I hope that clears things up.

4 posted on 12/31/2001 9:55:12 PM PST by PoorMuttly
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To: jennyp
This is spin. These people are criminals that have been caught in the act. Their purpose is to create "facts" or "science" that supports their agenda and to supress any information that would not support same. whether or not they actually were trying to "test" the lab, the fact that they didn't make it known to proper authorities indicates that they wanted to control the resultant information (by being the only ones privvy to it). Then they would release or supress according to their agenda. Thus fraud by premeditation, just like when you don't tell the local storekeep that there is no money in your checking account as you hand him the check.
6 posted on 12/31/2001 10:05:11 PM PST by Navy Patriot
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To: jennyp
There's an acronym for what's happening here - CYA. With each new article their stories become even more preposterous. After all these years of watching the professional liar from Hope, the amateurs are easy to spot.
10 posted on 12/31/2001 10:10:42 PM PST by kitchen
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To: jennyp
If I were to put my cynical hat on, I'd say that there must have been some hanky-panky in the 1998 survey that was thrown out. I don't understand how the results could have been ruined at the lab as is claimed in the article. Did they misidentify bear hair as lynx? Below an article from 1999 that describes the procedure used in Oregon.

In search of the elusive lynx

It sounds to me that someone was seeding these traps with lynx hair in 1998. They just overdid it.

16 posted on 01/01/2002 12:04:38 AM PST by Dan Cooper
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To: jennyp
Here's an AP article I didn't see posted here before. This was from 12/22/2001...
Two state biologists barred from research over lynx hoax


Associated Press

OLYMPIA -- Two state Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists who sent misleading lynx hair samples for DNA testing will be barred from further research work, their boss said.

Fish and Wildlife director Jeff Koenings said Thursday he was "angry and dismayed" that biologists Tom McCall and Jeff Bernatowiez breached proper scientific protocol while working with federal agencies to survey lynx populations.

"I spent many years training to become a biologist and consider this a slap in the face to myself and other biologists," Koenings said. "Our integrity and professionalism is now being questioned because of the arrogant actions of a few."

Seven state and federal biologists admitted that fur from captive Canadian lynx was added about a year ago to samples from the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests, which are not known to have populations of the reclusive cats.

The scientists said they wanted only to ensure the accuracy of the lab's DNA analyses.

The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have refused to release the names of the five federal biologists who submitted samples.

Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Doug Zimmer said his agency has no plans to further discipline the federal biologists involved, though that could change if new information comes out during an investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general.

The Forest Service investigation recommended counseling, and that was done, he said.

"In terms of discipline, it's not that huge an issue internally," Zimmer said.

Koenings' three chief scientists said an independent Forest Service investigation determined that one biologist submitted hair samples from a tanned bobcat pelt for DNA testing in 1999, making up a site number that did not correlate with the national survey numbers.

In 2000, a second biologist submitted a sample from a captive lynx, using a site number from the study but keeping personal records noting the hairs were collected from a captive lynx.

The scientists said the two biologists questioned the accuracy of DNA analyses after the 1998 lynx survey identified lynx in portions of Western Washington and in Oregon using DNA testing.

"It's a way of testing if a lab knows what it's doing," Zimmer said Monday from his office in Lacey. "It was not an attempt to put lynx where they're not."

The action has raised suspicion by timber and recreation groups about the government's intentions in a study of the rare animal's range.

Koenings said even though the samples were never used as part of the study and didn't affect land-use restrictions, the biologists' actions cannot be tolerated.

"What they did will undoubtedly cause many to question the integrity of other important research being conducted by our department and other natural resource agencies," he said. "And that's a shame."


Koenings' three chief scientists said an independent Forest Service investigation determined that one biologist submitted hair samples from a tanned bobcat pelt for DNA testing in 1999, making up a site number that did not correlate with the national survey numbers.

See? It's this kind of detail that tells me it was simply a stupid move by a skeptical researcher. If he wanted to skew the results, he'd have used a real site number.

This sounds like this incident mentioned in the Seattle Times article:

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."

Now the other incident, by the Federal biologists, is problematic:

In 2000, a second biologist submitted a sample from a captive lynx, using a site number from the study but keeping personal records noting the hairs were collected from a captive lynx.

18 posted on 01/01/2002 12:48:07 AM PST by jennyp
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To: jennyp
IT MAKES YOU WONDER HOW MANY PAST "STUDIES" WERE MANIPULATED. A KANGAROO RAT HERE, A SPOTTED OWL THERE, A SNAIL DARTER HERE, A LYNX THERE, A SUCKER FISH HERE AND A "SCIENTIST" THERE. NOW WE WONDER HOW MANY "ENDANGERED SPECIES" WERE "PLANTED" IN AN AREA THAT THE ECO-WHACKOS WANTED TO BE WITHOUT PEOPLE. I SEE ARTICLES EVERY DAY THAT START OUT WITH "MANY SCIENTISTS SAY" OR SIMPLY "SCIENTISTS SAY" WITHOUT ANY IDENTIFICATION OF THE "SCIENTISTS". FIND OUT WHO WRITES THE SCIENTIST'S PAY CHECK AND YOU WILL FIND OUT IF HE OR SHE IS NEUTRAL OR HAS A HIDDEN AGENDA WITHOUT SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE. IF THE RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS WANT A WORLD WITHOUT MAN WHY DON'T THEY VOLUNTEER TO BE FIRST TO VACATE A SPACE ON EARTH. THEY WILL NOT...THEY FEEL ONLY THE INFORMED ELITE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO LIVE.
22 posted on 01/01/2002 4:31:44 AM PST by bobg
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To: jennyp
I guess there's going to be Congressional hearings on this case.

I hope John Dingell has been notified!

27 posted on 01/01/2002 8:11:47 AM PST by Nebullis
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To: jennyp
Sience? What science? Here is a critique of the typical "science" used for managment decisions, such as the Sierra Nevada Frame:

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

28 posted on 01/01/2002 11:50:06 AM PST by marsh2
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To: jennyp
"I guess there's going to be Congressional hearings on this case. (Sheesh!) Well, at least the truth will come out, presumably."

JP, LOL!!! Thanks! I needed that. Happy nw year. Peace and love, George.

34 posted on 01/01/2002 4:03:01 PM PST by George Frm Br00klyn Park
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To: jennyp
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

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.

37 posted on 01/01/2002 7:58:16 PM PST by zip
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To: jennyp
Richard Pryor, when caught in the act: "Who you gonna believe, woman; ME or your lying eyes?"
42 posted on 01/02/2002 8:26:01 AM PST by meadsjn
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To: jennyp
"I don't know yet, but the initial stories claimed the scientists had placed lynx hair on the scratching posts out in the wild. This would've clearly been an attempt at fraud. But now it looks like they simply put control samples into some of the sample containers they sent to the lab."

Let's get the order straight:

The "salting" on scratching posts was done in the 1998 'study'.

The 'control samples' were sent later, to cover their a$$ after they got wind down the grapevine that they had been snitched off by some of their cohorts.

43 posted on 01/02/2002 9:39:45 AM PST by editor-surveyor
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