Former Wildlife Official a "Blemish" to Interior Department Integrity

Bush administration to reconsider politically-motivated Endangered Species Act decisions


Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice, (206) 343-7340, ext. 25

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will review the damage done to America’s wildlife by former Assistant Deputy Secretary Julie MacDonald. MacDonald used her political power to rig countless life or death decisions for imperiled American wildlife under the Endangered Species Act. Species like the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, California red-legged frog, and the Canada lynx are all likely a little closer to extinction as a result of MacDonald’s decisions while at the Interior Department. While at the Interior Department MacDonald regularly decided in favor of large landowners, development interests, and corporate polluters at the expense of America’s wildlife.

Earthjustice has extensive experience with MacDonald’s ways, having sued to counter the damage she did to a number of species including delta smelt, Sacramento River winter and spring run salmon, and others.

Earthjustice views today’s Fish and Wildlife Service announcement appears to be a token house-cleaning because the agency has so far restricted its review to only eight species of the many species MacDonald meddled with. Other species, like the northern spotted owl, bull trout, marbled murrelet, and the Sacramento split-tail, are not being looked at all.

Julie MacDonald resigned in May after a scathing report from the Interior Department’s Inspector General revealed that she had ridden roughshod over numerous decisions by agency scientists concerning endangered species protections.  The report found she had violated ethics rules, edited scientific decisions on endangered species issues and passed internal agency documents to outside parties hostile to wildlife protection. Of particular concern is her involvement with a 2003 decision to remove the Sacramento split-tail from the endangered species list, a fish found on property she and her husband own in California.

“We hope the Fish and Wildlife Service will closely review all the decisions made by Julie MacDonald that put imperiled species at further risk of extinction,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. “Earthjustice has challenged many of her decisions in court, and will continue to work to repair the damage she’s done.”

Additional Resources

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.