Missing Lynx - John Stossel reports

This Friday's ABC News "Give Me a Break" is about the "missing" lynx.  

Aug. 1, 2002 - The Canada lynx is getting some people very excited. An environmental group burned down a ski lodge in Vail because they thought it MIGHT threaten the lynx.

There are tens of thousands of lynx throughout North America, but because
the bureaucrats weren't sure there were any in southern Washington state,
they commissioned a million-dollar study to find out.

They placed pieces of carpet soaked with a catnip mixture on trees, hoping
a lynx would then rub up against them and leave some fur. Sure enough --
samples the biologists sent to the lab contained hairs from a Canada lynx!

This is a frightening prospect for people who like using the land.
Finding a threatened species can set in motion a series of events that can
wreck your life if you're a rancher or farmer or just someone who wants to
drive in the woods. It's a reason lots of people in southern Washington
are scared of the government's environmental police.

 As land-rights activist Mike Paulson put it, "We basically say if you
have an endangered species in your area, we are going to take your
livelihood away, we're going to destroy your communities, and we're going
to make it very difficult for your families to survive."

That didn't happen this time, because it turned out the government's
biologist were caught cheating!  The lynx hair sent to the lab came from a
lynx that lives in a cage, miles away from where the biologists claimed
they found the hair.  How could this happen?

Jim Beers, a Fish and Wildlife biologist for 31 years, says his agency
changed from promoting science to pushing what some believe is fanatical
environmentalism. Now he says the agency is "staffed with environmental
radical activists" who will twist facts until they get the results they
want -- and what they really want is to ban people from forests.

"Once you establish that there are any lynx in the area," Beers says, "the
areas in between suddenly become very urgent to not allow road to be
built, not allow the ski slopes to come in ... not allow grazing ...
ultimately, not to let you or I drive our wives and kids in for a picnic."

The biologists do have an explanation; they weren't trying to cheat, they
say, they were just testing the labs to make sure they could actually
identify lynx fur.

Beers replies:  "That's the same as you telling me that you caught them
walking out of the bank with money and they said, 'Oh, we were just seeing
if the system works here, we were going to return it tomorrow.'"

Were the biologists fired for cheating?  No.  How often do governments
fire anyone?  They were "verbally counseled," but they are still on the
job.  It makes me wonder what other parts of their science we don't know
the truth about.

If we now have the extremists giving orders with the power of government,
everyone's freedom is at risk.

Give me a break.

For more on this and the all the latest news, go to http://abcnews.go.com/Sections/2020/index.html?cmp=EM1388

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