Preble's Mouse and questionable science.
Want to delist some endangered species and open development in their designated habitats?
You could find a biologist sympathetic to your politcal viewpoint.
A year ago, developers welcomed the findings of biologist Rob Roy Ramey of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Interior Department's conclusion, based on his findings, that the Preble's meadow mouse no longer needed federal protections.
Ramsey was then hired as a consultant by Interior to review several other endangered species.
But subsequent research has cast strong doubts on his results.
The new study was conducted by Tim King, a USGS conservation geneticist based in West Virginia, and peer-reviewed by academic experts outside government. One of the reviewers, Eric Hallerman, a professor of fisheries and wildlife science at Virginia Tech, said King's study debunks Ramey's work.
"It contradicts it fairly strongly," Hallerman said.
King's study says Ramey's conclusions "should be considered questionable."
Hallerman said Ramey's work reflects the Bush administration's intrusion of politics in its scientific research. "It seemed to me from the get-go, he wanted to find that this was not a taxonomically valid subspecies," Hallerman said.
Does Ramey's politcal viewpoint cloud his science?
He acknowledged having strong views about endangered species.
"You cannot make everything a top priority and expect to accomplish anything, in terms of preserving species," Ramey said. "If we focused on conservation of fewer genetically unique populations and pooled our resources, we might accomplish more for conservation."
Eliminating protection of distinct subspecies is one of the key goals of developers apposed to the Endangered Species Act. It is not a viewpoint shared by most conservation biologists.
In the light of these new findings, Interior is currently reviewing the Preble's Mouse designation .