Washington, DC — The Bush administration nominee to head the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is drawing fire from conservation groups. Today a coalition of groups released a letter to Congress charging that Dale Hall, currently the USFWS Southwest regional director, gave illegal orders to his staff not to make scientific findings protective of wildlife, rewrote scientific conclusions for political reasons and issued a questionable policy forbidding biologists from considering genetic information about species’ recovery.
“We are not questioning his education or training, we are questioning his integrity,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting a series of actions by Hall that undercut the mission of the Fish & Wildlife Service. “Dale Hall has developed the reputation of being one of the biggest ‘biostitutes’ in the country; his moral flexibility is apparently why he was picked for this job.”
On July 18, President Bush nominated Hall to take over the vacant directorship of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the agency responsible for administering the Endangered Species Act for land and freshwater species. The Senate is expected to consider Hall’s nomination later this month.
“Dale Hall’s actions while regional director pushed southwestern wildlife and plants closer to extinction. He disregards science, bullies scientists, and is at the command of those industries imperiling the nation’s wildlife. For that shameful legacy, Bush is seeking to promote him,” stated Dr. Nicole Rosmarino of Forest Guardians. “Hall’s confirmation as national FWS director would be a dangerous mistake that wildlife on the brink simply cannot afford.”
In their letter, the groups detail how, during his tenure as USFWS southwest regional director, Hall—
- Instructed subordinates that the agency would not issue findings of “jeopardy” for any species currently protected by the Endangered Species Act, meaning that the agency would object to no development project on the grounds that the project would harm threatened or endangered species;
- Ordered biologists in the Southwest to ignore genetics when making decisions about endangered or threatened species’ recovery; and
- Has yet during his tenure to take a single action that protects wildlife that was not the product of a court order.
In a survey earlier this year of agency scientists working under Hall –
- Fully two-thirds of scientists working with endangered species said they were “directed, for non-scientific reasons to refrain from making jeopardy or other findings that are protective of species;”
- More than one in four reported being “directed to inappropriately exclude or alter technical information from a USFWS scientific document,” the highest percentage compared with the other USFWS regions; and
- Four out of five biologists working under Hall did not “trust USFWS decision makers to make decisions that will protect species and habitats.”
“Unfortunately, Hall fits very well into the administration’s strategy of attacking science and refusing to implement protections for America’s endangered plants and animals,” stated Brian Nowicki, a conservation biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “His appointment would be a disaster for the biologists of the Fish and Wildlife Service and for the imperiled species they are supposed to be protecting.”
The coalition of groups opposing Hall’s nomination includes Forest Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).