Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Catfight Ensues over Case of Lynx Fur Planted in Forests ; US Biologists Say They Put Fur of Rare Lynx in US Forests to Test Laboratory Analysis. Others See a Hidden Agenda

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Catfight Ensues over Case of Lynx Fur Planted in Forests ; US Biologists Say They Put Fur of Rare Lynx in US Forests to Test Laboratory Analysis. Others See a Hidden Agenda

Article excerpt

A few strands of hair - lynx hair, to be precise - have touched off a political catfight that is being heard from the vast evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest to the halls of Congress.

The spitting and hissing began last month, with the revelation that five federal wildlife biologists planted fur from a Canadian lynx - an officially "threatened" species - in the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchott national forests in Washington. On the issue of placing lynx hair on rubbing posts, the researchers plead mea culpa.

What has everyone in an uproar is speculation about why they did it - and what their actions may imply about the reliability of scientific data used both to manage federal lands and to protect certain animals named under the Endangered Species Act.

"The discovery of this problem underscores a long-standing concern I've had over these Endangered Species Act studies," says James V. Hansen, chairman of the House Resources Committee and a vocal critic of the Endangered Species Act. "To me, this revelation calls into question all studies that have been done over the past eight years."

The US Inspector General's Office is now investigating whether the federal scientists should face criminal charges. The five, who so far have been subject to minor disciplinary action, are reported to have told investigators that they submitted fur samples to a laboratory not to deceive, but to test whether the DNA lab could identify real lynx fur if it weren't told beforehand what the sample was.

Others, though, see something more nefarious in the scientists' actions. Some claim that the scientists were trying to falsely establish the presence of lynx in the two national forests so as to restrict logging, mining, and recreation in them. Mr. Hansen, along with several Republican colleagues from the West, wants harsh punishment to be meted out because the suspect data, if used to impose restrictions on certain land uses, had the potential, he says, "to devastate the economies of entire towns and counties. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.