Washington DC – Bombings, beatings and arsons committed against national forest, refuge and range staff and facilities rose dramatically during 2001, according to agency records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).Not only did the total number of such incidents increase but the percentage of incidents involving direct violence against employees also rose from those reported in 2000.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, PEER collected incident reports from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service of threats or violence against agency employees during the previous year. A compilation of those reports revealed that:
Forest Service incidents more than doubled (a 136 percent increase), from 33 in 2000 to 78 incidents last year. Case reports include several accounts of pipe-bombings, assaults and shootings;
Fish & Wildlife Service reports rose by almost one-fourth (22 percent), including a series of confrontations surrounding attempts by the agency to restore an illegally drained wetland; and
BLM reports rose only slightly (4 percent) but almost half of BLM incidents in 2001 were violent, a 20 percent increase from the year before.
PEER has been compiling this data since 1995.Despite the passage of the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act, after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, requiring the U.S. Attorney General to collect and report data “relating to crimes and incidents of threats…and acts of violence” against government employees in the performance of officials duties, no such reports have been made.
“The agencies themselves do not publish these numbers because they apparently do not consider the safety of their own employees a high priority,” stated Eric Wingerter, PEER’s National Field Director. “The Department of Justice has also dropped the ball when it comes to protecting federal resource agency employees; it does not even classify these attacks as domestic terrorism.”
In a related PEER report, attacks on Park Service law enforcement officers increased nine-fold in 2001.