The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), part of the Department of the Interior, is the federal agency responsible for the protection of endangered species. But in 2004, Andrew Eller Jr., a biologist for the FWS, filed a formal complaint that charged agency officials of knowingly using flawed science in an assessment of the Florida panther, the only remaining puma population in the eastern United States, that inflated panther population numbers and mischaracterized their habitat needs. The agency then repeatedly used the inaccurate data as justification to approve permits for real estate development on the panther’s habitat in southwest Florida.
Eller, who had worked at the FWS for 18 years, was fired after filing his legal complaint with assistance from the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. The FWS eventually conceded that it had used flawed science, published a revised analysis, and reinstated Eller to his job.