Politicizing U.S. Fish and Wildlife

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Yep, as I was saying yesterday, so much of what the Bush Administration does is for political gain. Sometimes, they also helps out their buddies in industry. Take, for example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

And at the center of it is one Julie A. MacDonald, appointed by Bush to be the deputy assistant secretary for fish and wildlife and parks at the Interior Department. The very ugly details of her malfeasance have been exposed by an inspector general report. (Update: MacDonald, by the way, has a degree is in civil engineering and has no formal educational background in natural sciences.)

Ms. MacDonald, whose job is to oversee policy decisions on endangered species and other wildlife, sent internal agency documents to industry lobbyists (e.g. she twice sent “internal Environmental Protection Agency documents — one involving water quality management — to individuals whose e-mail addresses ended in ‘chevrontexaco.com,”) and generally ran roughshod over agency scientists.

Here’s how she works: MacDonald just made stuff up. If scientists recommended a certain action, MacDonald would alter the recommendation or simply ignore it if it threatened industry or landowners in any way.

MacDonald was apparently in a state of constant battle with career scientists and others at the agency, over issues that, at times, impact New Mexico:

MacDonald tangled with field personnel over designating habitat for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher, a bird whose range is from Arizona to New Mexico and Southern California. When scientists wrote that the bird had a “nesting range” of 2.1 miles, MacDonald told field personnel to change the number to 1.8 miles. Hall, a wildlife biologist who told the IG he had had a “running battle” with MacDonald, said she did not want the range to extend to California because her husband had a family ranch there.

No regard for sciencists or their work, or for policy experts and career employees. Simply put, look out for No. 1 whenever possible.

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