Fish and Wildlife Service Documents Show Arizona's Desert Nesting Bald Eagle Victim of Agency Corruption Again

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Dr. Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity, (602) 799-3275
Herb Fibel, Maricopa Audubon Society, (480) 226-6014

Fish and Wildlife Service Documents Show Arizona's Desert Nesting Bald Eagle Victim of Agency Corruption Again

PHOENIX, AZ - Newly obtained documents reveal that
U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service bald eagle experts have again been overruled by their
political
superiors in order to remove Endangered Species Act protection for
Arizona's desert
nesting bald eagles
. An
August 24, 2009, memo from Regional
Fish and Wildlife Director Benjamin Tuggle to Assistant Fish and
Wildlife
Director Gary Frazer states that the Arizona population "is discrete
and significant" to the bald eagle population as a whole "based
on its persistence in an unusual or unique [desert] ecological
setting." Tuggle's memo summarizes more than 30 years of biological
studies and the consensus of every recognized bald eagle expert.

In a response dated December
4, 2009, Frazer dismisses the experts' opinion, advising that his
"...staff will work with you on development of the revised version of
the finding. Obviously, the finding should not simply cite my
conclusion..."

This
scenario is a repeat of the agency's attempts in 2006 and 2007 to
remove
protection from Arizona's reproductively, geographically,
biologically, and
behaviorally isolated population of approximately 160 individuals
and 60
breeding pairs. In these past attempts, the agency tried to suppress
the
consensus science presented in an October 6, 2004 petition from the
Center
for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon requesting increased
protection for the desert bald eagle distinct population segment
(DPS).

On March
5, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Murguia rejected the last agency
ruse on the grounds that agency scientists "...received ‘marching
orders' and were directed to find an analysis that fit with a
negative
90-day finding on the DPS status of the desert bald eagle."

"Indeed,
the record indicates that each time FWS biologists from the FWS's
Arizona
Field Office assessed whether listing the desert bald eagle
population as a
DPS may be warranted, they found that 'no information in [the FWS's]
files
refutes' Plaintiffs' petition..."  Judge Murguia added.

"President
Obama promised that his administration's decisions would be based on
science. Department of Interior and Fish and Wildlife Service
administrators have obviously not gotten the message," said Herb
Fibel, Maricopa Audubon president.

"For
more than three decades, our desert nesting bald eagle has been
recognized
as unique and significant by every acknowledged eagle expert. The
science
has not changed, but just as if Bush were still in office, political
hacks
in DC are trying once again to throw our eagles into the garbage for
the
benefit of their developer patrons. We will not allow this to happen
without
an historic fight. We look forward to confronting these bullies in
the
courtroom and beyond," said Dr. Robin Silver of the Center.

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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