The week before Labor Day is often slow for news, as summer dwindles to a close with people wrapping up vacations and kids getting ready for school. Stories often get lost in the shuffle, and thus it’s favorite time for institutions to release information they don’t necessarily want to spend much time explaining.
That’s why a particularly bizarre story out of Pullman caught Shift’s eye – concerning lying, the never-ending fight between environmentalists and ranchers, and academic integrity – and we waited until this week to see how much attention it would get. Since it seems to have faded, we thought we’d bring it back.
Two weeks ago, a Washington State University professor made the headline-grabbing claim that a rancher had intentionally released some of his cattle to be killed by wolves – so that the state would then kill the wolves. As the Times first reported:
“Robert Wielgus, director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, has radio-collared 700 cattle and dozens of wolves, including animals in the Profanity Peak pack, as part of his ongoing study of conflicts between wolves and livestock in Washington. He also camera-monitors the Profanity Peak pack’s den.
“‘This livestock operator elected to put his livestock directly on top of their den site; we have pictures of cows swamping it, I just want people to know,’ Wielgus said in an interview Thursday.”
However, a week later, Professor Wielgus’ bosses said, umm, never mind, letting the public know that “statements by a Washington State University researcher that a rancher turned out his cattle on top of a wolf den were inappropriate and inaccurate and ‘contributed substantially to the growing anger and confusion about this significant wildlife management issue,’ the university said.”
That’s right, a week after one of their own went out of his way for media headlines with a provocative story, WSU’s leaders determined that their own researcher had simply made up a story, and “disavows the statement made by the researcher, Robert Wielgus.”
Further, the professor “subsequently acknowledged that he had no basis in fact for making such a statement. In actuality, the livestock were released at low elevation on the east side of the Kettle Crest more than four miles from the den site.”
Given that stern public rebuke, one would expect some contrition from the professor. Not so fast, though, according to the Times:
“Asked to comment Tuesday on challenges to his statements by a conservation group, Wielgus told The Seattle Times that he would have no further public comment on the subject.”
The University itself went to pains to suggest that the problem was not with any of the research done by the professor in question:
“Robert Strenge, spokesman for WSU, said the university’s statement did not concern Wielgus’ lab, research or work. Nor was it about expressing his opinion. It was solely about the inaccuracy of the statements. The university would be taking ‘internal steps’ to prevent such statements in the future, Strenge said.”
Perhaps one of those ‘internal steps” would be firing an educator that would blatantly lie.
Someone needs to put this picture through Photoshop. The guy at the podium looks like Satan. Unless it is Satan …
KMWP lies to the people says
He’s red faced from being exposed as a chronic liar.
Brad Fish says
Dishonest liberal environmentalist. Say it ain’t so. Integrity used to matter. He should be fired.
Mark Smith says
When they have to lie to further the cause it displays their intention to force their agenda on us at all costs. This clown should be fired but since it is a liberal institution he will get his wrist tickled and then be promoted…
Radio Randy says
They could fire him and he can go to work alongside Melissa Click, at Gonzaga.
Fire him without severance pay, plain and simple. Isn’t WSU taxpayer funded ? People like this have no business doing any sort of research.
I read the story when it first broke and called for his firing at that time. Not particularly because of the content of his statement, but because as a ‘Professor” and “scientist” he openly disavowed his very existence as a Professor and Scientist by using his ‘titles’ as a platform for political excrement.
Lisa Messmer says
Four miles from a den with five pups to feed is indeed, on top of that den. The rancher then placed salt blocks at a known rendezvous site. He wasn’t lying. Follow the money. WSU is merely covering their ass so they can continue to get their donors’ money. They silenced him. Too bad you all support welfare ranchers and don’t know the entire story behind this ONE rancher. Go the the WSFG facebook page and find out the truth of the matter. Les McIrvin wants all wolves removed from WA state and he’s using his cattle to bait this wolf pack so the wolves will be removed at taxpayer expense. Just like he had the Wedge pack removed in 2012… except upon necropsy of those members (6 of 8 wolves killed) not one of them had cattle remains in their stomachs.
Chandie Bartell says
Ranchers have NO knowledge of where wolf packs or dens are located.
There is no such thing as a welfare rancher. The “Welfare Rancher” term is political newspeak. Nothing but disingenuous political propaganda used by dishonest people. You want to talk about the entire financial aspect of that false claim then you prove it with documented factual evidence using a professional accountant and a breakdown of all of the costs involved including all taxes payed by the rancher. If you’re honest then you’ll see that the welfare claim is a lie.
Ranchers pay a lower lease rate that is less than what they would pay if they were leasing private land because the private land owner maintains the gates, fences, water distribution, springs, seeps, ponds ditch and sprinkler irrigation, wells run off public utilities power or solar power, and roads, cattle guards. And carries all of the insurance required for a commercial venture. On the public lands the rancher provides all materials and maintenance all of that and carries commercial liability and Work Comp insurance and pays income taxes quarterly. They have been paying up and proving up since day one..
In an effort to push their agenda environmentalist will lie, cheat and destroy property. This professor is no different then the environmentalists that planted evidence to push their agenda. They were also on the state payroll.
As an aside, the book Silent Spring was responsible for banning DDT. DDT was very successful in killing mosquitoes. When DDT was banned the rate of deaths from Malaria rose to new levels. By the way it was later determine that the theme cited in Silent Spring was not correct. DDT was not responsible for killing birds. So what. DDT is still banned and people are suffering painful deaths. Environmentalists really do not care. They will continue to lie, cheat and destroy to get their way.
Chandie Bartell says
He is the Professor that used female grad students for this study also. Claiming lethal control of wolf packs creates more depredation. https://news.wsu.edu/2014/12/03/research-finds-lethal-wolf-control-backfires-on-livestock/
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