Fish & Wildlife Service scientists report political pressure, distortion

When two public-interest groups sent a survey on scientific integrity to 1,400 scientists at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, agency administrators warned the scientists not to respond — not even in their personal time. Now that 414 of them have defied the warnings, it is clear why the bureaucrats were nervous. More than half of the respondents reported that agency officials had reversed or withdrawn scientific conclusions in response to industry pressure. One in five said that they had been directed to withhold or alter technical information from reports, and almost half claim they were pressured to avoid making findings that might lead to greater protections for endangered species. As to this political interference, an agency spokesflack responded, “There’s nothing inappropriate about people higher up the chain of command supervising the work of people below them and reaching different scientific conclusions.” Uh … there isn’t?