Monthly Archives: September 2015

U.S. District Court Rejects Challenges to Final Rule Terminating Sea Otter Translocation Program.

On September 18, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected the assertion by the California Sea Urchin Commission, California Abalone Association, and Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara (Plaintiffs) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) lacked authority to issue a final rule terminating the California sea otter (Enhydra lutris … Continue Reading

Greater Sage-Grouse Avoids Listing through “Unprecedented” Collaborative Conservation Efforts

On September 22, 2015, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Department of the Interior is calling the greater sage-grouse strategy “the largest land conservation effort in U.S. history” and “a 21st-century approach to conservation.”  In reaching its … Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues 90-Day Findings on Petitions to List 25 Plant and Animal Species

On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued 90-day findings on 25 petitions to list various plants and animals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Of the 25 petitions, the Service concluded that 23 petitions presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned actions may be warranted, and initiated 12-month … Continue Reading

Challenge to Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier Thrown Out Due to Lack of Proper Notice

On September 14, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California granted the state and federal defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (CESAR) v. Cowin, No. 1:15-cv-00884 (pdf). Plaintiff CESAR claimed that the construction and operation of an emergency drought salinity barrier … Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Finds Listing of New England Cottontail Not Warranted Due to Species Recovery From Conservation Efforts

On September 15, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published (pdf) its 12-month finding on a petition to list the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis) as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service determined that listing the species is not warranted. The New England cottontail is the … Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Spurns Second and Tenth Circuits, Sides with Eighth and Ninth Circuits on Interpretation of MBTA “Take” Prohibition

Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), it is unlawful to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture, or kill . . . any migratory bird” protected by the Act.  16 U.S.C. 703(a) & 704(a).  In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that although the MBTA … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Ponders Fully Protected Species Issues

On September 2, 2015, the California Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case involving fully protected species that may have important state-wide implications. (Center for Biological Diversity v. Department of Fish and Wildlife (Newhall Land and Farming Company), No. S217763.)  The case involves challenges to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (Department) environmental impact report … Continue Reading

Court Vacates Final Rule Listing Lesser Prairie Chicken

On September 1, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Midland Division vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“Service”) Final Rule listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken (“LPC”) as threatened.  The Service had published its final rule listing the LPC as threatened on April 10, 2014 amidst significant controversy as to whether the … Continue Reading

D.C. Court Largely Upholds Loggerhead Sea Turtle Biological Opinion

On August 31, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia largely upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (Service) Biological Opinion (BiOp) addressing the impacts of seven fisheries on the Northwest Atlantic Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta).  The plaintiff, an ocean conservation organization, challenged the Service’s conclusion in … Continue Reading
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