- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 8, 2002

It's a trick that Yogi Bear would have been proud of a scientist attempted to fake evidence of the presence of a threatened bear. It follows hot on the heels of revelations that government scientists planted hairs from a Canadian lynx in Washington state national parks as evidence of the presence of an endangered species. What on earth is going on? Had these cases of fraud not been exposed, they would have given rabid environmentalists a free lunch of closed parks and restricted recreational activities. Heaven knows what else these people have been up to.

As reported yesterday by Audrey Hudson of The Washington Times, a fish and wildlife biologist working on a study of the habitat of the threatened grizzly bear in Washington state tried to obtain additional bear hair samples from a taxidermist. The taxidermist, Jim Gintz, was surprised by the request, since the bear he was tailoring into a rather grisly rug was from a perfectly legitimate hunt in Alaska, not to mention perfectly dead. Although Mr. Gintz was told by the scientist that the hair was simply to be used as a blind sample in the study, he refused to comply.

In doing so, he avoided a boo-boo, since according to the protocol of the study, blind samples could only be submitted from areas in which grizzlies had already been reintroduced, and then only with the approval from the person leading the study.

Mr. Gintz also stayed alert for other traps. When he read Mrs. Hudson's stories on state and federal biologists who tried to fake evidence of the threatened Canadian lynx, the missing links of his ursine request were filled as probable evidence of a foiled attempt at biofraud. He contacted state Rep. Bob Sump, who also happened to be a co-chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.

Mr. Sump recognized that faked grizzly evidence could have created an unbearable situation, restricting recreation at Jellystone Park and other public lands across Washington, not to mention curtailing, or totally cutting off other legitimate commercial activities within those areas including timber, mining and road construction.

Unfortunately, other similar frauds could still be in hibernation. After all, one doesn't have to be a whole lot brighter than Ranger Smith to plant evidence of endangered species hair samples appear to suffice. Moreover, since it's probably a lot easier to pick up a sample on the way to a Starbucks instead of stomping around a forest for days on end, simple laziness will suffice for extremist environmental ideology.

However, finding fraud is no picnic. It demands both being smarter than the average bear and evidence, such as hairy requests or matching fur samples.

House Republicans already promised to hold hearings on the mysterious missing lynx, and they should expand it to cover this bearish attempt at biofraud as well. After all, faked samples of other threatened species may also be hidden in what increasingly appears to be a forest of fraud.

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