Saturday, July 21, 2007

Red Legged Frog

Politics has infused this science for as long as it has been around and determining what the correct path to travel is will occupy us for some time as we try to balance the needs of people and habitat, which can be dealt with congruently.

Species to get second look
Agency will investigate decisions in 8 cases after a top official's resignation
By Michael Doyle - Bee Washington Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, July 21, 2007

The California red-legged frog is getting a second look from Bush administration officials who now acknowledge politics may have trumped science in earlier endangered species decisions.

In an extraordinary and apparently unprecedented move, the Fish and Wildlife Service said Friday it will review how the agency handled eight endangered species decisions going back several years. Officials fear former Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie A. MacDonald may have twisted policy to please private interests.

"In some cases, unfortunately, it appears there were changes made that shouldn't have been," said Fish and Wildlife Service Director H. Dale Hall, adding that "it's a blemish on the scientific integrity of the Fish and Wildlife Service."

The new reviews will reopen some intensely fought endangered species battles. They range from removing protections for a jumping mouse in Colorado to shrinking the critical habitat designed for the Southwestern willow flycatcher and the Canada lynx.

In California, the agency will be reviewing MacDonald's role in drastically reducing the critical habitat set aside for the California red-legged frog. Last spring, the agency designated 450,288 acres as critical habitat for the amphibian made famous by Mark Twain's story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."