Scientific Fraud Infests Fish & Wildlife Service Top Ranks

News on another Department of the Interior agency.



Whistleblower Hearing Traces Corruption and Retaliation Back to Director’s Door


FWS Director Dan Ashe

Posted on Feb 25, 2015

Washington, DC —An explosive whistleblower hearing transcript paints a vivid picture of rampant scientific misconduct, callous reprisal and systemic mendacity within the upper echelons of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which posted the full texts today. The transcript also illustrates how a highly-touted agency Scientific Integrity Policy has become a tool for just the opposite..

This whistleblower case is striking because it involves a high-level manager rather than a field biologist; Gary Mowad is a 28-year FWS veteran and former Deputy Director for law enforcement. For the past few years, Mowad had been the FWS Texas Administrator for the Ecological Services Division, handling a parade of thorny endangered species and natural resource issues arising out of the Lone Star State..

The hearing took place because Mowad challenged being placed on an open-ended “detail” causing him to leave Austin for Albuquerque for a position with no apparent duties. The reassignment followed his reporting a number of scientific integrity concerns, including what he termed a blatantly political decision by the FWS hierarchy to reverse the staff recommendation that the dune sagebrush lizard, with habitat in the heart of Texas oil country, be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

In an August 18, 2014 hearing before the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, testimony indicated:.
•Widespread scientific fraud, such as using models to classify paved parking lots as endangered species habitat, is facilitated by top FWS officials to accommodate a network of politically connected consultants called the “Texas mafia;”
•Within hours after Mowad’s disclosure to the FWS Scientific Integrity Officer, it was relayed to top headquarters officials, and he was ordered to vacate his office. An arrangement to end Mowad’s exile was personally quashed by FWS Director Dan Ashe; and
•The Whistleblower Ombudsman for Interior’s Office of Inspector General testified that “Months of pointed discussions and stern warnings…have not resulted in any formal and permanent action” to discipline managers guilty of misconduct or protect whistleblowers from further retaliation.

Mowad’s case quickly settled after MSPB Judge Mary Ann Garvey summarized what she had heard by saying “it appears that the history of the Fish and Wildlife, and specifically …Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, [Deputy Director Rowan] Gould, and Ashe is that whistleblowing retaliation is tolerated or even condoned. Apparently someone got promoted or something good happened to them after they retaliated.”.

“Political skewing of science in today’s Fish & Wildlife Service is just as rife and blatant as it was during the darkest days of the Bush years,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization represented other FWS scientists working in the Southwest Region under Tuggle. “The Service’s entrenched culture of corruption persists with the full knowledge and blessing of Director Dan Ashe.”.  READ MORE AT PEER.ORG/news


16 replies »

  1. Fish and Wildlife Service removed ALL of the Wild Horses and Burros from the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge AND sold them to a known kill buyer to take to slaughter.

    Press release

    Denio, NV (September 19, 2013)…. Despite receiving 14,000 faxes and emails from concerned citizens and inquiries from Congress, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is still poised to turn over an estimated 240 wild horses, captured in Nevada last week, to a slaughter middleman in Mississippi. The government will pay the middleman – Stan Palmer of J&S Associates in Pelahatchie, Mississippi – over $1,000 per horse to take the horses off the government’s hands, despite the department’s own internal investigation that showed wild horses previously sent to Palmer had ended up in the slaughter pipeline.

    A total of 400 wild horses were captured last week in a helicopter roundup in the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in northern Nevada. They are being held and processed in corrals at Sheldon for the next 30 days. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a division of the DOI, operates the refuge is prohibiting the public from viewing the captured horses. FWS plans to turn approximately 160 of the animals over to legitimate adoption contractors, leaving 240 for Stan Palmer.

    The FWS intends to eradicate wild horses and burros from the refuge, despite excellent range conditions, broad public support and interest in viewing the horses on the refuge, and the animals’ historic significance to the area.


  2. There was a previous agreement to allow Wild Horses to remain in Sheldon Wildlife Refuge and that agreement was NOT honored by Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Sheldon Wildlife Refuge had an agreement with Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) and the Wild Horses were to REMAIN in the refuge.
    Craig Downer worked with Wild Horse Annie. The following is from an interview with Craig:

    “That’s one thing I remember about my work with Wild Horse Annie. She had established an apparently solid agreement with the Sheldon National Wildlife Reserve, that the horses would be recognized in perpetuity as an integral part of the Sheldon wildlife community. Sheldon had a magnificent herd of horses that remained for nearly four decades thanks to her agreement. The officials there used to say, yes, the horses have been here for centuries and people love to see them, and they integrate well with the pronghorn and other wildlife. There were studies done by Jo Meeker at University of Nevada proving that they harmoniously exist with the pronghorn antelope. But recently there seems to be a vendetta. Basically we are talking about a war of values here.”


  3. Parking lots as endangered habitat? REVERSE LIZARDS PROTECTION? Do these folks hang out with horse slaughter folks? Bc the delusions appear the same!


  4. Director Ashe is the blowhard who justifies a war on America’s wildlife with this:

    “Conservationists must accept a world with fewer wolves, salmon, and spotted owls.”


    “In the name of compromise, we must accept “a world with less biodiversity.”

    Nope. It’s unconscionable that a person charged with managing an already dwindling wildlife system in America could ‘compromise’ both himself and his agency with a mouthful of that kinda crap.

    Let’s fire him!


  5. Looking back on the 2013 NAS Report on the BLM’s Management of Wild Horses and Burros, it’s possible they gave us a tool we didn’t recognize at the time when the NRC refused to let the scientists address the origin of the horse issue.

    Throughout the report, the scientists address some questions as not being answerable through science. The piece about the origin of the horse is handled similarly. The report states that this is not a scientific issue. Logically, we say, “Of course it is. How else could you answer the question?” And the answer is exactly what the BLM has done which is to answer it politically, not scientifically. In essence, I think this translate into “As far as the BLM is concerned, the answer cannot be answered scientifically.”

    The scientific answer is out there, and we know what it is. The political answer is what the FWS, BLM, NPS, FS, EPA, Smithsonian (really), APHIS, WS give us. Craig has made the point that the BLM’s removal of the horse from the West has harmed the range. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the point is to make sure there is not enough enough water to support either the people or their livestock operations or wildlife like the horse.


  6. Fraud within USFWS? That’s nothing new. The agency is rife with fraud – such as the theft of $45 to $65 million from Pittman-Robertson funds. There are so many hidden lies, so much deceit and anti-hunting/anti-rural living agendas in the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project that it would take scores of investigators to dig through that subterfuge to uncover the truth. Director Ashe himself is nothing more than a front man for the radical environmental groups. USFWS has outlived its usefulness…it’s time to dissolve the agency, and save the taxpayers of this country a few billion dollars every year.


  7. Our Wild Burros are yet another casualty of the Fish and Wildlife Service

    The Cibola-Trigo Wild Burro roundup was scheduled to begin on April 9, 2012 but was postponed because of a private citizen’s Appeal and Petition for Stay to the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA). The wild burros had been discovered to be on the Endangered Species List “where found” per the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Integrated Taxonomic Information System which gave substantial legal reason to stop the burro capture. But before the IBLA judge made his decision, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service promptly revised the endangered species listing by arbitrarily changing the burros’ scientifically accepted name and the wild burros then had a new, “un-endangered” name which then technically removed the wild burros from the endangered species list.

    The name change was politically and not scientifically driven.

    What entity could wield enough power to make a federal agency change its position on an endangered species listing?

    The North Baja Pipeline Expansion Project – an international gas pipeline crosses through the Cibalo-Trigo and the Chocolate Mule Herd Management Areas.
    It appears that international trade/import/export trumps the laws of our government and the laws of true science.


    The IBLA denied the Petition for Stay on April 30, and the roundup went ahead as planned.
    It was an inter-agency governmental steam-roller action to remove the American wild burro from being on the endangered species list – which technically it was at that time. Equus asinus was endangered “wherever found”. More information: http://ppjg.me/2012/06/03/the-time-is-ripe-to-speak-for-our-burros/

    Even though “significant adverse comments” were sent to the USFW by the public which they SAID would cause them to further review the proposal (see link below), they completely ignored the public and went ahead with their name change. Link to Federal Register with burro name change: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/06/05/2012-13421/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-technical-correction-for-african-wild-ass

    171 public comments were sent to them and almost all (all but one?) questioned their authority to change the scientific name of the burro species. Read here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-R9-ES-2011-0095-0001

    Here is the link to main page of the federal register where official announcements are made https://www.federalregister.gov/
    African wild ass (Equus africanus)
    Listing Status: Endangered
    Where Listed: WHEREVER FOUND

    CHANGED ON JUNE 5, 2012

    Fish and Wildlife Service
    Notice of Clarification of Status of Wild Burros
    (emphasis added)
    Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Technical Correction for African Wild Ass
    A Rule by the Fish and Wildlife Service on 06/05/2012
    Direct Final Rule.
    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the revised taxonomy of Equus asinus (African wild ass) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We are revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to reflect the current scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature of this species. We revise the scientific name of this species as follows: Equus africanus (formerly E. asinus).
    Unified Agenda
    Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Technical Correction for African Wild Ass


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