Dan Ashe, the recently appointed director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, says restoring FWS's scientific credibility both within and outside the agency will be his top priority. Ashe, a 16-year agency veteran, appears with his dog Annie at Patuxent Research Refuge in Laurel, Md. Photo courtesy of FWS.
The Fish and Wildlife Service must work to restore its credibility with the public and establish a framework to ensure that science, not politics, drives endangered species listings, according to the agency's new director.
Dan Ashe, a 16-year agency veteran who took the helm at the end of June, said his primary goal as director is to create an environment within FWS built around a commitment to science and excellence in public service.
"At our core, we continue to recognize that we are a scientific organization, and that we are committed to the fundamental practice of science as a bedrock in the organization," Ashe said in a sit-down interview this week with Land Letter.
Regaining public confidence in the agency's commitment to science will take time, but Ashe said big changes have already occurred under the Obama administration.
"At no time have we had more freedom to make biologically based decisions under the Endangered Species Act, and that includes [during] the Clinton administration," said Ashe, who has worked for the agency since 1995 in various management capacities, including director of external affairs, director of the National Wildlife Refuge System, science adviser and deputy director.