Surprise! :frown:Here's the story... Kind of long
Scientists' 'wild hair' really wasn't
Fur from tame lynx was inserted in samples to test laboratory's ability
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
By LISA STIFFLER
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Snowmobilers and timber groups are wondering if government biologists have cried "lynx."
State and federal biologists recently admitted to planting fur samples in a survey to determine the distribution of Canadian lynx in national forests. Three samples taken from captive cats were added to samples reportedly found in the Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests.
But the biologists, who notified interested parties of what they did, said the samples were added to make sure the lab analyzing the fur was able to successfully detect lynx with its DNA analysis.
"It's a way of testing if a lab knows what it's doing," Doug Zimmer, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lacey, said yesterday. "It was not an attempt to put lynx where they're not."
Lynx were found in the Okanogan National Forest in the survey, but not the two forests to which the samples were added. The false samples were removed from the study and did not taint its outcome. Samples were collected again this year.
If lynx -- which have protection as a federally threatened species -- had been found in Wenatchee and Gifford Pinchot national forests some activities, including snowmobiling and tree cutting, could be curtailed.
The elusive cat, with its broad, furry paws, is well-adapted to hunting snowshoe hares through snowy drifts. The snowmobiles pack the drifts and give unfair advantage to other predators competing with lynx for prey. Thickets of lodgepole pine need to be maintained as habitat for the hares.
Even if the lynx were shown to reside elsewhere in Washington, changes in land use would come slowly and would not necessarily be severe.
"Nothing would change overnight," said Rex Holloway, spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service.
Chris West, vice president of the timber group the American Forest Resource Council, said he wasn't sure the government biologists were trying to falsify results, but was concerned about the study.
"There's already been some funny business going on with the lynx," he said.
A few years ago, an Oregon lynx study performed by a contractor hired by the Forest Service was called into question, West said. The contractor claimed to find lynx, but the results could not be validated and the contractor was not paid.
The seven biologists who were part of the government study included employees of the Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and state Department of Fish and Wildlife. An investigation was conducted into the adding of the samples as soon as it was discovered, and the scientists involved were taken off the project, agency spokesmen said.
"This is a very, very isolated incident," Zimmer said.
The samples falsely added to the survey came from two lynx, one belonging to a federal scientist doing research and the other from a wild-animal park, he said. "If you were really going to skew something, you would use samples that you picked off the wild."
In experiments, "control" samples can be added to test techniques, but their addition was not included in the protocol for this particular survey.
The incident could undermine the integrity of the research.
"It jeopardizes the whole process of trying to protect the lynx in the first place," said Glenn Warren, president of the Washington State Snowmobile Association, a group of about 2,300 registered members and their families.
"We always like to see good science prevailing."
P-I reporter Lisa Stiffler can be reached at 206-448-8042 or [email protected]
I did just that and they did, I also got a couger in a trap and they put a collar on that one as wellNone. Why would I? I've done nothing wrong. If I caught a lynx in a trap I'd call a bio so they could come out and look at it. My guess is they'd want to put a collar on it so they could follow it around.
I believe it. I saw a Wolverine outside of Estacada about 5 years ago, so anything is possible.I ran across one last Saturday morning about 145 am headed to murderers creek for deer hunting. It was much larger than a bobcat. It made about three strides across the road before dropping off into the brush