Letter Endorsed by 100 Scientists Calls for Removal of the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service
On April 12, The Rewilding Institute’s Carnivore Conservation Biologist, Dave Parsons, sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland calling for the removal of the current Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service because she is serving in violation of federal law. The letter is endorsed by 100 scientists.
In 1973 Congress passed the Endangered Species Act, which requires decisions made pursuant to the Act to be based on the best available science. In 1974 Congress modernized, by law (16 U.S.C. 742b(b)), the current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Recognizing the importance of science-based decision-making for conserving the nation’s wildlife, Congress established scientific qualifications for the Director of the new agency, “thereby assuring the appointment of a professionally trained public servant,” who was not subject to “political taint.” (H. Rep. 93-952)
Specific language was included in the federal statute requiring that “[n]o individual may be appointed as the Director unless he is, by reason of scientific education and experience, knowledgeable in the principles of fisheries and wildlife management.” The scientific education requirement is unambiguous and separate from the experience requirement. Since 1964, all confirmed Directors have possessed one or more academic degrees in the natural resource sciences – 3 BS, 9 MS, and 1 PhD.
The current Service Director has no “scientific education” credentials. She has a BA in philosophy from the University of Virginia and a law degree from the University of Montana.
David Parsons received his Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University and his Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from Oregon State University. Dave is retired from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where from 1990-1999 he led the USFWS’s effort to reintroduce the endangered Mexican gray wolf to the American Southwest.
Dave’s interests include the ecology and conservation of large carnivores, protection and conservation of biodiversity, and wildlands conservation at scales that fully support ecological and evolutionary processes. He is the Carnivore Conservation Biologist for The Rewilding Institute, a member of the Science Advisory Board of Project Coyote, a former member and chairman of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, and a former graduate advisor in the Environmental Studies master’s degree program at Prescott College. Dave serves as a science and policy advisor for organizations and coalitions advocating for wolf recovery and landscape-scale conservation in the Southwest.
In 2001, Dave received the New Mexico Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s annual “Professional Award.” In 2007 at the North American Wolf Conference, Dave received the “Alpha Award” for his “outstanding professional achievement and leadership toward the recovery of Mexican wolves.” In 2008 he received the “Outstanding Conservation Leadership Award” from the Wilburforce Foundation and the “Mike Seidman Memorial Award” from the Sky Island Alliance for his conservation achievements.
Dave enjoys wildlife viewing, wilderness adventures, and dancing. He lives in Albuquerque, NM, with his wife, Noralyn.