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Washington, DC — In an effort to boost sagging staff morale, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service today is holding an all-staff “Town Meeting” to tout its “scientific excellence,” according to a memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

By this week, all agency employees have been ordered to watch a video entitled, “Science and the Service, A Tradition of Excellence.” This afternoon, all employees will take part in an “interactive discussion” via telephone conference, internet connection or satellite download with Director Steve Williams. According to its announcement, the event “should generate a rich discussion of scientific practices in the past, present and future.”

“Ironically, the rich tradition of scientific excellence within the Fish & Wildlife Service is being tarnished by the very people who are organizing this propaganda-fest,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch whose organization represents scores of agency scientists who have complained of political interference with biological studies. “This is like a winless baseball team trying to rally the team by celebrating its past, distant glories in order to mask its troubled present.”

During the past few months, the Fish & Wildlife Service has experienced arguably its lowest points in regard to scientific credibility:

  • Yesterday, a FWS biologist charged his agency with scientific fraud on habitat and population studies concerning the Florida panther in order to facilitate mega-developments in the Western Everglades;
  • Last month, Director Williams overruled a scientific panel he had convened, leaving in place a ruling that allows hunters to shoot rare trumpeter swans; and
  • Earlier this year, FWS summarily replaced scientists working for a decade on the Missouri River with a politically chosen team referred to as “the Wise Guys or the SWAT Team.”

“This is the same Fish & Wildlife Service that claims it lacks a sufficient budget to implement the Endangered Species Act but it does not hesitate to lavish staff time and funds on empty exercises,” added Ruch. “Despite this invitation to rap with the Director, as a practical matter, any agency scientist who actually raises scientific concerns invites career homicide.”


Read the memo on “Promotion of Scientific Excellence”

See the filing by USFWS biologists charging his agency with scientific fraud on the Florida panther

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