Current Weather
The Spy FM

Feds Conclude Probe Of Polar Bear Scientists

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
August 13, 2012

A federal investigation into two researchers who wrote a famous report on drowned polar bears is finally over, according to their lawyer.

But the scientists still haven’t been allowed to see a copy of the investigation report or its conclusions, says attorney Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Critics have charged that the two-year investigation was a witch hunt into researchers whose work had political implications.

Charles Monnett and Jeffrey Gleason are two wildlife biologists with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Back in 2004, while flying over the Arctic to do a routine survey of whales, they saw polar bears that had apparently drowned.

Their report on the dead bears became a potent symbol of the threat of climate change and melting ice. Al Gore mentioned the drowned bears in his movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

But in March 2010, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General received what it called “credible allegations” that “acts of scientific misconduct may have been committed by one or more DOI employees.” Federal investigators repeatedly interviewed the researchers. Many of their questions centered on the observations of the dead bears and how the report was written.

At one point, the investigation veered into questions about whether Monnett had followed rules about managing government contracts. He was placed on administrative leave, then later re-instated but relieved of his grant-management responsibilities. His lawyer says he did nothing improper.

Ruch says the final report on the investigation’s findings was submitted to BOEM on June 27 and that it recommends that the agency take some sort of administrative action. It’s not clear whether that means disciplinary actions against the scientists or simply some changes in agency procedures. Ruch has requested to see the report, but the Office of Inspector General responded that it is still in “open” and unreleased status until BOEM responds.

A spokesperson for BOEM contacted by NPR said the agency does not comment on personnel matters.

Ruch says the inspector general’s office has asked BOEM to make a decision within 90 days, but the agency could potentially ask for an extension or choose not to respond at all. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center