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Mountain Lion on the Run and Monkeys Who Gamble

Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) has released his annual list of government projects his offices deems to be a waste of taxpayer money. As LiveScience reports, these projects include a number of science-related ones.

"Wastebook does not question whether the studies are within the realm of basic science but rather if they are groundbreaking enough to warrant taxpayer funding over other priority research, such as Ebola or ALS, or incurring increased debt," a Coburn spokesperson tells LiveScience in an email.

Among the hundred projects Coburn's office highlights is a study of mountain lions that taught them to walk in treadmills as well as outfitted them with tracking collars to study their movements; a project studying gambling in monkeys; and a study of how quickly invasive saltmarsh cordgrass grows.

But the list "lacks nuance," LiveScience says. It notes that, for instance, the "gambling monkey" project is really a study of human cognition and the mountain lion project will inform wildlife management policies as the researchers are tracking not only the animals' movements but also their energy expenditure and behavior.

"It is unfortunate and sad that public safety and well-being is being threatened by politicians' hasty efforts to promote their political agendas," said Brown University's Willoughby Britton, whose research was targeted by Coburn, tells LiveScience.