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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Fish & Wildlife Service

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Up For Debate: What’s the Real Cost of Endangered Species Predation?

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On February 10, 2016, lawmakers on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans are scheduled to discuss several wildlife laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  The Oversight Hearing is entitled “The Costly Impacts of Predation and Conflicting Federal Statutes on… Continue Reading

Wildlife Agencies Announce Final Critical Habitat Rules and Policy

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On February 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, the “Services”) announced the availability of two final rules and one policy addressing critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  One of the final rules  revises the definition of “destruction or adverse modification,” an issue that has been… Continue Reading

Senate Sportsmen’s Bill Would Delist Gray Wolves in Wyoming and Great Lakes Region

Posted in Congress, Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legislation

On January 20, 2015, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, which complements the bill reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee late last year.  However, the Environment and Public Works Committee’s approval adds a number of controversial amendments to the Act’s overarching… Continue Reading

Fish & Wildlife Service Announces Listing Prioritization Shake-Up

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

In a notice published on January 15, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced a draft methodology for prioritizing species status reviews and 12-month findings on petitions for listing species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  81 Fed. Reg. 2,229 (Jan. 15, 2016).  The Service currently has over 500 unresolved species status reviews… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Concludes Northern Wolf Species Doesn’t Merit Listing

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On January 6, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued its 12-month finding on the petition to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf (Canis lupus ligoni) as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, concluding that listing the wolf species throughout all or a significant portion of its range “is not warranted… Continue Reading

Court Holds Pre-Violation Notice Under the Endangered Species Act Is Akin to No Notice At All

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), a citizen plaintiff is required to provide a notice no less than 60-days before filing certain types of lawsuits against the federal government.  For example, a 60-day notice is required before a citizen plaintiff may file a lawsuit seeking to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to issue a decision on an ESA listing petition.  The primary purpose… Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Upholds Denial of Motion to Enjoin Klamath Mountains Fire Recovery Project

Posted in Consultation, Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Litigation

On December 3, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon’s denial of a preliminary injunction sought by environmental plaintiffs to enjoin the Douglas Fire Complex Recovery Project in Oregon’s Klamath Mountains.  Cascadia Wildlands v. Thrailkill, No. 14-35819 (9th Cir. Dec. 3, 2015).  The… Continue Reading

Court Rejects Some, But Not All Challenges to Critical Habitat Designation of Private Land

Posted in Court Decisions, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule designating 1,724 acres as critical habitat for the endangered Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus woottoni).  Included in that designation were 56 acres of private land, on which the plaintiff, Otay Mesa Property, L.P. (Otay Mesa), had planned to build a recycling facility and landfill.  Because of… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delists Delmarva Fox Squirrel

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service

On November 16, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a final rule (pdf) removing the Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciurus niger cinereus) from the list of endangered and threatened species.  Following its 2012 review of the species, the Service concluded that the best available scientific and commercial data indicate the Delmarva fox squirrel is… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Updated Guidance to Streamline 90-Day and 12-Month Petition Findings

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On October 27, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) issued a memorandum to the Service Regional Directors announcing new guidance to streamline findings on petitions to list species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The stated purpose of the guidance is to “streamline petition findings while ensuring [the Service] conducts an adequate review… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Determines that Listing of Sierra Nevada Red Fox is Warranted at the Distinct Population Segment Level; Separately Service Removes 19 Species From Candidate List

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

In a notice published on October 8, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its proposed 12-month finding on the Center for Biological Diversity’s (CBD) petition to list the Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator) as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Service determined that listing of the… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Proposed Listings and Designates Critical Habitat Pursuant to 2011 Listing Settlement Workplan

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

During the last week of its fiscal year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) made several findings under section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) to meet its obligations under the 2011 listing settlement workplan.  Below is a brief summary of these findings. On September 29, 2015, the Service published a proposed rule… Continue Reading

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

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

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

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

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

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal, Litigation, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

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

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

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

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Uncategorized

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

Court Vacates Final Rule Listing Lesser Prairie Chicken

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

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

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Proposed Rule Regarding Critical Habitat Determination for the Marbled Murrelet

Posted in Conservation, Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On August 25, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule relating to the existing critical habitat for the marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus).  The murrelet is listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The proposed rule does not purport to change the Service’s previous designation of critical… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Survey Habitat Conservation Banks

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service

On July 24, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a notice seeking authorization from the Office of Management and Budget to evaluate habitat conservation banks established under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) through a survey of bank sponsors and managers.  80 Fed. Reg. 44,147.  The Service and the Department of the Interior’s… Continue Reading

ESA Roundup – Legislation, Listings, and Litigation

Posted in Congress, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legislation, Listing, Litigation

Whether dealing with water or with endangered species directly, there have been a number of recent developments that are worth keeping on your radar.  Below is a quick summary of some of the more significant items: July 16, 2015 – The House of Representative, in a largely partisan vote, passed H.R. 2898, the Western Water and American Food Security… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: Polar Bear Unlikely to Survive a Warming Climate

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service

On July 6, 2015, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Service) published a Draft Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) Conservation Management Plan (Polar Bear Plan).  The Polar Bear Plan identifies the continuing loss of sea-ice habitat as the single greatest threat to the species’ continued survival, and the global reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG) as the most important action… Continue Reading

District Court Declines to Provide Injunctive Relief for Emergency Drought Salinity Barrier in the California Bay-Delta

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legal, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

On June 18, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, finding the plaintiff failed to establish that an emergency salinity barrier would imminently harm species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability (“CESAR”)… Continue Reading