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Eco-fraud Exposed: Government biologists were caught planting evidence that could have resulted in further land-use restrictions in vast national forests. (Environment).

According to federal officials, it was excessive zeal for accuracy, rather than an intent to commit fraud, that prompted seven field biologists to plant hairs from an endangered wildcat species in three national forests. This explanation has done little to appease outraged property owners, miners, loggers, ranchers, and other residents of the western United States, many fearing that the land on which they live and work may be designated a "habitat" for an endangered animal or plant species.

In 1999 and 2000, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife conducted a study of the habitat of the Canadian lynx, which is listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. An internal Forest Service investigation learned that the government biologists had planted samples of lynx hair on rubbing posts placed in forest lands to collect evidence of lynx habitat. The December 17, 2001 Washington Times explained that if the deception had succeeded, "[T]the government likely would have banned many forms of recreation and use of national resources" in Wenatchee, Gifford Pinchot, and Mount Baker/Snoqualmie National Forests in Washington state.

In a January 4th follow-up report, the Times observed: "The incidents were first reported by a Forest Service employee who left a phone mail message for his supervisor the day before his retirement in September 2000." The investigation did not begin until February 2001. One of the biologists involved in the affair refused to cooperate with the investigation "without unspecified legal and contractual specifications," according to a U.S. Forest Service Report obtained by the Times. In any case, the Forest Service didn't press very hard: Upon completion of its investigation last June, it reassigned six of the researchers and allowed the seventh to retire.

Washington state Fish and Wildlife field biologist Jeff Bernatowicz participated in the survey, and admitted that he sent hair samples from a captive lynx to the Forest Service lab mislabeled as a sample collected in a forest. In an interview with the Seattle Times, Bernatowicz claims that he was testing the accuracy of the lab, "so I wasn't going to tell them I was sending in a blind sample."

Doug Zimmer of Washington's Fish and Wildlife Service endorses Bernatowicz's account. "What they were trying to do was the right thing," Zimmer insists. "The way they went about it was the wrong thing."

The U.S. Forest Service has taken up a similar refrain, insisting that the actions of the seven biologists did not "skew" the study, and that they merely showed bad judgment. "It affects the reputation of us as an agency overall because we say we are a science-based organization," declared Barbara Weber, associate deputy chief for research and development for the U.S. Forest Service. "If people are tainting data and planting data, that speaks to the integrity and credibility of the agency as a whole and any policy we make with that data. It is huge, beyond what they thought would be an outcome of this."

Business as Usual?

Eco-bureaucracy spokesmen give the impression that this is an isolated case in which a handful of field researchers suffered a lapse in judgment. But according to Chris West of the American Forest Resource Council, another federally employed biologist was caught planting lynx hair samples in the Oregon Cascades. Retired Fish and Wildlife Service biologist James M. Beers told the Washington Times, "I'm convinced that there is a lot of that going on for so-called higher purposes."

Those "higher purposes" are inspired by a doctrine called "biocentrism" -- a worldview in which man has no privileged place in nature. According to Steven C. Rockefeller of Middlebury College, a theology professor and chief author of the United Nations Earth Charter, "In a biocentric approach, the rights of nature are defended first and foremost on the grounds of the intrinsic value of animals, plants, rivers, mountains, and ecosystems rather than simply on the basis of their utilitarian value or benefit to humans."

From a biocentric perspective, human beings -- at least as they presently exist -- are the single greatest menace to the environment. This perspective was expressed by David Garber, a former research biologist with the National Park Service: "Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are part of nature, but that isn't true. Somewhere along the line -- at about a million years ago, maybe half that -- we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.... Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along."

As Garber's remarks illustrate, adherents of the biocentric view tend to be shockingly callous in their view of less "enlightened" human beings. The killing of a 10-year-old boy by a cougar at Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park in 1997 prompted a similar display of biocentric misanthropy. After park officials tracked down the predator and killed it, a local biocentric activist complained in the letters column of a local paper: "The female lion represented the future of her species, which I believe has an equal right to exist on this planet. The lioness deserved better treatment from the rangers." Apparently unmoved by the boy's death, Sherrie Tippie of Wildlife 2000, a Denver-based biocentric group, commented, "[T]he only species we have too many of is the human one."

The Eco-Terror Nexus

In his book In a Dark Wood: The Fight Over Forests and the Rising Tyranny of Ecology, environmental affairs analyst Alston Chase writes that the Clinton administration, "under the rubric of 'reinventing government,' ... adopted biocentrism as the guiding philosophy of all federal land management." The Clinton administration's move to protect the "endangered" Canadian lynx offers an interesting example of convergence between the federal eco-bureaucracy and the eco-terrorist fringe -- what could be considered the "activist" arm of the biocentrism movement.

Just prior to Bill Clinton's 1999 decision to list the Lynx as a "threatened" species, an eco-terrorist group called the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) conducted an arson attack against the Vail Ski Resort in Colorado, which had announced plans to expand into an area designated as lynx habitat. The perpetrators of the attack, which caused $12 million in damage to the resort, were never arrested, and the statute of limitations expired last October. Last summer, ELF terrorists planted spikes in hundreds of trees throughout one of the Washington forests in which the wildlife biologists had planted lynx hairs. The "tree spiking" was done to prevent a planned timber sale.

Other biocentrists have written approvingly of unleashing dangerous animals to facilitate the land grab. One biocentric activist urged the introduction of large predators such as wolves near human population centers in order to "bring back another element that has been vanishing from the Western back country. That ingredient is fear. Wolves [and similar large predators] are killers.... People will think twice before traipsing into the back country."

Looming behind the land grab is alongterm plan intended to lock up approximately half of the surface are a of the United States into a vast wilder ess preserve. The "Wildlands Project," a N-approved plan for preserving "biodiversity," would carve up North America into a system of reserve wilderness areas, interconnecting corridors, and human buffer zones where human use would be eliminated or severely restricted. And the re-introduction of predatory species plays a key role in the Wildlands design.

According to Harvey Locke of the Wildlands Project, "helping large carnivores re-colonize parts of their former range" is a major aim of the re-wilding process, since the effort would "preser e or restore species at the top of the food chain." This would come as news to those people in the areas to be returned to the wild, who may have assumed that humans are the "species at the top of the food chain." Though difficult to understand, many biocentric radicals consider ecologically "unenlightened" humans little more than a source of protein for non-human predators.

A Case for Congress -- and the Courts The federal bureaucracy did 1 s best to bury the Canadian lynx scandal and the matter would have disappeared quietly had it not been for a whistleblower who tipped off the press. Representative Scott McInnis (R-Colo.), chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on f rests and forest health, has promised to old hearings on the scandal, declaring that the once-suppressed Forest Service inquiry "raises the specter that agenda-driven biologists may have taken matters into their own hands." But the federal eco-leviathn's eagerness to protect the biologists suggests that the "rogue" researchers weren't acting alone. After all, had their fraud been successful, western property owners -- of federal bureaucrats -- would have be the victims.

Eco-radicals inside and outside the federal government have assembled a formidable arsenal to use against western property owners, including fraud, human terrorism, and even the use f feral predators as surrogate terrorists. A successful counter-attack would begin with a full congressional investigation of t e corrupt officials implicated in the Canadian lynx hoax, followed by criminal prosecution of everybody involved -- as high up the bureaucratic ladder as the case will go.
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Title Annotation:biocentricism, United States
Author:Grigg, William Norman
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 28, 2002
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