One More Political Hack Out

The Los Angeles Times reports that Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Julie A. MacDonald resigned on Monday over her egregious political overrides of scientists concerning wildlife issues.

The inspector general’s report outlined instances where MacDonald, a civil engineer with no formal training in natural sciences, advocated altering scientific conclusions in ways that favored development and agricultural interests.

H. Dale Hall, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, told investigators that MacDonald overrode field experts on designating habitat for the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher.

Scientists concluded that the birds had a “nesting range” of 2.1 miles, but MacDonald ordered the number reduced to 1.8 miles without providing any scientific basis for the change.

Hall, a wildlife biologist, told investigators he was in a “running battle” with MacDonald over the issue. Hall said MacDonald had a particular interest in endangered species rulings that affected California because her husband had a ranch in the state.

California property records show that MacDonald and her husband, Charles, own 80 acres identified as crop land in Yolo County near Sacramento.

Now this is not just stupid, as so much of the political messing about with science has been, but also completely petty. Here we have someone putting entire species at risk for a little convenience on 80 acres of personal property.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.