On Dec. 13, The Post ran a front-page story about Dr. Richard Mitchell and his work in Pakistan and China {"Wildlife Scientist Investigated for Hunts"}. As attorney for Dr. Mitchell, permit me to address just a few of the many misperceptions reflected in the article.

The head of Pakistan's National Council for the Conservation of Wildlife has publicly acknowledged the success of the game warden program set up with Dr. Mitchell's assistance. He has proposed it as a model for self-supporting animal conservation programs throughout Pakistan. The article created the inaccurate impression that the program is a tool for killing endangered Suleiman markhors. The article ignores the fact that as a result of game warden programs Dr. Mitchell assisted, the free-fall decline in the Suleiman markhor population has not only been halted, but the population of this animal has doubled from 200 to 400 in just one of the areas protected by game wardens.

The article also mischaracterized scientific research surveys of inestimable value to Chinese and world wildlife organizations as mere ''hunts,'' solely because sport hunting organizations subsidized the surveys and one or two hunters helped the dozens of scientists involved by collecting specimens. Throughout the history of field research, hunters and their organizations have routinely provided such assistance to scientists.

Nor is there any excuse for the inflammatory caption used to suggest that the Smithsonian's assistant secretary for research was on a frolicsome ''hunt'' rather than doing research with some of China's brightest zoologists. The Congress of the United States created the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to facilitate such financial assistance from sport hunters and others, and the Department of the Interior is currently conducting a jaguar survey funded by the same organization that provided assistance to the Chinese and American scientists working with Dr. Mitchell.

The Post also published a quotation from a Canadian scientist that alleges that Dr. Mitchell has abused his position in the Office of Scientific Authority to issue permits in exchange for the subsidizing of his scientific research. Dr. Mitchell's office at the Department of the Interior does not even issue any wildlife permits, and to our knowledge, none of the individuals who supported Dr. Mitchell's research ever applied for, received, or even needed, any permits from the Interior Department.

The fact that The Post published a lengthy, front-page story on the game warden program and wildlife in developing nations shows an important interest in heightening public awareness of a complicated subject. If the article had been both fair and lengthy, it could have made an important contribution.

JUSTIN D. SIMON Washington

Kim Masters' article on Richard Mitchell's alleged profiteering from illegal hunting activities while working under the aegis of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Institution reveals only the tip of the iceberg.

Our world's endangered animals need all the help they can get for protection against people like Mr. Mitchell and his thrill-seeking hunters. His "American Ecological Union" seems to have served nicely as a cover to facilitate the purposeless killing of imperiled species.

Pressure on the government for stricter enforcement and accountability from its employees is vital. Americans should be outraged that their tax dollars have supported Richard Mitchell's dirty work. We can at least be gratified that a federal investigation is underway.


Is there anyone who can truly give a humane and rational argument for stopping an animal's life to "collect" it as a "trophy"? Talk about euphemisms! If someone has to prove how daring and adventurous he or she is, a photograph would be a lot less violent and a lot less wasteful.