Seven Southern Oregon Fisheries Biologists Allege Censorship, Coercion

Jan 8, 2013

Seven fish biologists working in Southern Oregon filed a scientific misconduct complaint Monday. They say the Bureau of Reclamation plans to disband their team because their studies were unpopular. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix Reports.

Four different federal agencies are all working to save threatened salmon and endangered suckerfish that live in the Klamath river and Klamath lake.

Biologists with the Bureau of Reclamation say some of their fish studies had unusual results. In one example, they found a population of endangered suckerfish in a part of the river other agencies considered a dead zone.

The biologists say their manager criticized them for “proving others wrong.”

Then, they say, their manager announced plans to reassign them and outsource future fish studies.

Jeff Ruche with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility helped the scientists file a complaint. p> Ruche: “These scientists are losing their jobs because of the content of their science. And that’s the heart of the complaint. To the extent that there are scientific disagreements, there are ways to handle it other than saying, your office is abolished.”

In a written statement, the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath office characterized the move as a standard reorganization and said no staff members will lose their jobs.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio