Among the numerous eleventh-hour actions taken by the 113th Congress was the publication of a report, released Monday, by the House Committee on Natural Resources’ Office of Oversight and Investigations. Under The Microscope: An examination of the questionable science and lack of independent peer review in Endangered Species Act listing decisions (PDF) is, as the name suggests, a rather damning review of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service practices where ESA listings are concerned.
For those of us who’ve spent a bit of time examining the agency’s use of what USFWS insists is the “best available science” to justify their ongoing witch-hunt against outdoor cats, the report’s findings are hardly surprising. It turns out, for example, that USFWS “does not have clear or consistent policies and procedures in place” to appropriately handle potential conflicts of interest among scientists reviewing the science used to support or deny ESA listings. 
Moreover, some of these reviewers are the very same scientists whose work is being used to make the listing decisions. In other words, they’re being asked by USFWS to weigh in on their own work. (Guess what? They tend to give it a strong endorsement.) And some have received grants from the Department of the Interior (which oversees USFWS) “and who have known policy positions or affiliations with advocacy groups that support the listing decision.” 
And despite its stated commitment to transparency, USFWS “routinely withholds from the public the identities of peer-reviewers, qualifications of peer-reviewers, instructions, and details about their comments.” 
As I say, these findings are damning, yet unsurprising in light of how the agency promotes the lethal roundup of outdoor cats—at times claiming to have an official position, and then backpedaling—all the while claiming they’ve got science on their side. But the House Committee on Natural Resources’ report confirms something I’ve been saying for years: it’s not science that USFWS has on its side, but scientists.
There’s a big difference.
* In fact, the report “has not been officially adopted by the Committee on Natural Resources and may not necessarily reflect the views of its Members.”
1. n.a., Under The Microscope: An examination of the questionable science and lack of independent peer review in Endangered Species Act listing decisions, 2014, House Committee on Natural Resources, Office of Oversight and Investigations. p. 36.