Monday, July 23, 2007

U.S. could reverse suspect endangered species rulings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, accused of letting a political appointee meddle in the science of endangered species, said on Friday it could reverse eight decisions if it finds they were inappropriately influenced by political concerns.

The decisions under review affected species as varied as the Hawaiian picture-wing fly and the white-tailed prairie dog. All involved input from Julie MacDonald, a former deputy assistant secretary who resigned in May after government scientists complained of political interference.

Dale Hall, head of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said hundreds of endangered species decisions from MacDonald's five-year tenure were reviewed after her resignation, and eight were singled out for further evaluation and possible reversal.

"These are important because it's a blemish, I believe, on the scientific integrity of the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior, so we're going to place a pretty high priority on trying to get these done," Hall said in a telephone briefing.......

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