Official: Suspension unrelated to polar bear paper

By BECKY BOHRER | July 29, 2011 | 3:13 PM EDT

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal official says the suspension of Alaska wildlife biologist Charles Monnett is unrelated to a 2006 article Monnett wrote about presumably drowned Arctic polar bears.

Michael Bromwich also says it's unrelated to Monnett's scientific work and instead a result of new information on a separate subject recently brought to light.

Bromwich is director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Enforcement and Regulation. His comments came in an email to agency staff in Alaska, a copy of which was obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Monnett was placed on administrative leave last week pending results of an inspector general's investigation into "integrity issues."

A watchdog group said questioning by investigators centered on the polar bear observations but that Monnett hasn't been informed of the specific allegations being investigated.