Fish and Wildlife Service infighting

September 30, 2010 | By PACIFIC LEGAL FOUNDATION

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

This week's New York Times Greenwire had an interesting article on Benjamin Tuggle, the Service's Southwest Regional Director.  Mr. Tuggle's tenure has been controversial for a number of reasons—fining of humanitarians who leave water bottles for illegal immigrants in wildlife refuges, for example.  But the point I found most interesting in the article is Mr. Tuggle's confession that Service staff on the ground often are out of touch (even in a Democratic administration) with higher-ups in the agency.

Tuggle admitted that his decisions are not always popular with FWS employees. But, he added, field managers sometimes fail to understand other factors that must be taken into account in species decisions.

"That's a fair criticism," he said of the complaint that he sometimes contradicts his field staff. "There are a lot of times that recommendations come in from the field which don't comport with the reality of the decisions we have to make. I think I try to communicate about the decision, but they don't always like the decision. But I always respect their expertise."

One saw a similar dynamic in the Bush Administration, unfortunately exemplified by the Julie MacDonald controversy, where greenie Service employees resisted attempts from above to ameliorate some of the impacts of environmental regulation on property owners and industry.