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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

AGENCY ADMITS PANTHER WHISTLEBLOWER WAS RIGHT - Fish & Wildlife Service Persists in Trying to Fire Vindicated Scientist

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AGENCY ADMITS PANTHER WHISTLEBLOWER WAS RIGHT —
Fish & Wildlife Service Persists in Trying to Fire Vindicated Scientist

Excerpt - Washington, DC — The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) today formally conceded that it has been using flawed science in assessing the habitat and population of the endangered Florida panther, according to a letter from outgoing Director Steve Williams. The agency announcement came in a decision to uphold a legal complaint filed jointly by one of the agency’s own biologists and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that studies relied upon by FWS in approving proposed development in Southwest Florida inflate panther population and inaccurately minimize habitat needs.

Andrew Eller, Jr., an 18-year USFWS biologist, in the Florida panther recovery program who filed the complaint with PEER, was fired by FWS the week after the November election. PEER is contesting Eller’s termination; that case is slated for hearing in April.

The PEER/Eller complaint contends that FWS engaged in scientific fraud by —

*Equating daytime habitat use patterns (when the panther is at rest) with nighttime habitat use patterns (when the panther is most active);
*Assuming that all known panthers are breeding adults, discounting juvenile, aged and ill animals; and
*Using population estimates, reproductive rates, and kitten survival rates not supported by field data.

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