Erik Kiviat knows where the endangered Blanding’s turtle lives—and that has made him a popular man in Dutchess County, N.Y On the one hand, environmental groups opposed to a local housing development have offered to pay Kiviat, who is an environmental consultant, to say that the creature is threatened by the project, even though they know perfectly well that no turtles live in the area. On the other hand, the developers have suggested to Kiviat that if he somehow were to find a turtle on their property, they’d pay him to club it and then forget it ever existed.

Kiviat has rejected both requests. He is, he is proud to say, a field biologist turned environmen tal consultant, not a “biostitute”—the harsh term many scientists use to describe members of their profession who will interpret the results of their fieldwork or laboratory analyses with less concern for good science than...

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