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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Fish & Wildlife Service

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Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Incidental Take Statements Not Required for Plant Species

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

On August 15, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision granting summary judgment to the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) on the issue of whether an incidental take statement is required for plant species.  In Center for Biological Diversity v…. Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Delists Three Fox Species and Reclassifies One Other

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a final rule (pdf) removing the San Miguel Island fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis), Santa Rosa Island fox (U. l. santarosae), and Santa Cruz Island fox (U. l. santacruzae) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Service also reclassified… Continue Reading

Texas Hornshell Mussel Proposed for Listing Under Endangered Species Act

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On August 10, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a proposed rule to list the Texas hornshell (Popenaias popeii), a freshwater mussel, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The species has been on the candidate species list for over a decade, and the proposed rule meets a listing… Continue Reading

ESA Round-Up – Summer 2016

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service

In the past few weeks, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published several Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions, including the following: On August 1, 2016, NMFS published a 12-month finding on a petition to list the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) under the ESA. According to NMFS,… Continue Reading

USFWS Publishes Final Methodology for Prioritizing Listing Petition Status Reviews

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On July 27, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“USFWS”) published a Federal Register notice of its final Methodology for Prioritizing Status Reviews and Accompanying 12-Month Findings on Petitions for Listing Species under the Endangered Species Act (“Methodology”).  The final Methodology clarifies several of the terms and processes identified in the draft Methodology. The… Continue Reading

D.C. Circuit Holds Informational Standing Nonexistent Prior to 12-Month Finding

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the dismissal of an environmental organization’s Endangered Species Act (ESA) claim, concluding that the organization lacked standing because the informational injury alleged in the complaint could not, as a matter of law, arise until after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife… Continue Reading

Fifth Circuit Upholds USFWS Designation of “Uninhabitable” Critical Habitat for Endangered Dusky Gopher Frog

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

In a 2-1 decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected challenges to the final rule designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act.  Markle Interests, L.L.C. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 14-31008 (5th Cir. June… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Increases Civil Penalties

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Regulatory Reform

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published an interim rule (pdf) revising its civil procedure regulations for the assessment of civil penalties for violations of various laws and regulations within the Service’s jurisdiction.  The Service issued the revised procedures pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, which requires agencies to update… Continue Reading

Federal Wildlife Agencies Release Draft Revisions to Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service

On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released draft revisions to their joint Habitat Conservation Planning Handbook (Handbook).  The proposed revisions are intended to address concerns raised by the regulated community regarding the habitat conservation plan (HCP) program implemented under section 10 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA)…. Continue Reading

Circuit Courts Tackle Question of Agency Liability Under the MBTA for Permitting of Wind Energy Facilities

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service

On June 7, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected plaintiffs’ claim, among others, that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) by granting a right-of-way to a private company to develop and operate a wind energy facility.  Protect Our Communities Foundation v. Jewell,… Continue Reading

USFWS Issues 90-day Finding for Midwestern Moose Population

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing

On June 2, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a 90-day finding that listing populations of the Northwestern moose (Alces alces andersoni) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may be warranted.  The Service’s 90-day finding is in response to a petition filed in July 2015 by the Center for Biological Diversity and… Continue Reading

Wolf-Rider Introduced in House Funding Bill

Posted in Congress, Fish & Wildlife Service, Legislation

As recently reported by the Center for Biological Diversity, a rider has been proposed for an appropriations bill that would provide $1.5 billion to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2017.  The controversial rider would remove current Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolf populations in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Wyoming.  The appropriations bill, which is currently… Continue Reading

Lesser Prairie-Chicken Appeal Abandoned

Posted in Conservation, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, Litigation

After filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit less than two weeks prior, on May 10, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) filed an unopposed motion to voluntarily dismiss its appeal of the district court decision that vacated the listing of the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) as threatened under… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Authorizes Take of the Last Known Wild Jaguar in the United States

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service

On April 28, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued a revised Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Permit for the Rosemont Copper Mine in Pima County, Arizona. USFWS originally issued a Biological Opinion and Incidental Take Permit for the mine project in 2013. Consultation with USFWS was reinitiated in 2015 primarily due to… Continue Reading

Changing the ESA Listing Petition Process? Not as Much as You Might Think.

Posted in Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, Listing, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

On April 21, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (collectively, “Service”) announced revisions to their proposed modifications  to  the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) petition process. 81 Fed. Reg. 23,448 (Apr. 21, 2016) (pdf).  In May 2015, the Service announced proposed changes to the petition process for listing a species… Continue Reading

Article Sets Out Guidance for Implementing Endangered Species Act’s Best Available Science Mandate

Posted in Continuing Education, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

Environmental Management has released an advanced copy of an article I co-authored with Dr. Dennis Murphy entitled, Guidance on the Use of Best Available Science under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.  The principle purposes of the article are to identify the types of data, analyses, and modeling efforts that can serve as best available science… Continue Reading

Congressional Hearings to be Held on New Critical Habitat Rules and Delisting under the Endangered Species Act

Posted in Congress, Critical Habitat, Delisting, Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Regulatory Reform

This week, two congressional committees are holding three separate hearings on issues related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  On April 19, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold an oversight hearing entitled Recent Changes to Endangered Species Critical Habitat Designation and Implementation.  On April 20 and 21, the House Oversight and Government Reform… Continue Reading

Court Rejects ESA Challenge to County’s Local Land Use Planning

Posted in Court Decisions, Fish & Wildlife Service

On April 8, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida held that Collier County’s (County) land use planning regulations were complimentary, not contrary to the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The court also held that the County’s planned future roadway extension did not violate the ESA, because the roadway project was only… Continue Reading

The Wolverine Takes on Climate Change: Montana District Court Remands Withdrawal of Proposed Listing Rule

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

On April 4, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) August 13, 2014 withdrawal of its proposed rule to list the distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Withdrawal).  The Withdrawal signaled a complete departure from the Service’s February 2013 proposed rule to list… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Issues 12-Month Findings on Four Species

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service

On April 5, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued 12-month findings on petitions to list the island marble butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus), the San Bernardino flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus), the spotless crake (Porzana tabuensis), and the Sprague’s pipit (Anthus spragueii) under the Endangered Species Act.  The Service concluded that the listing… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Designates Critical Habitat for 125 Hawaiian Species

Posted in Critical Habitat, Fish & Wildlife Service

On March 30, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) issued a final rule designating critical habitat for 125 species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) on the Hawaiian islands of Molokai, Maui, and Kahoolawe.  The rule designated critical habitat for 50 plant and animal species, and revised critical… Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Revisions to Mitigation Policy

Posted in Fish & Wildlife Service, Regulatory Reform

On March 8, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced (pdf) proposed revisions to its Mitigation Policy that has guided Service recommendations on mitigating the adverse impacts of development on fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats since 1981.  The revised policy provides a framework for achieving a net gain in conservation outcomes, or… Continue Reading

Listing Litigation: Courts Rule on Two Permian Basin Species

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

On February 29, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas rejected the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) request to reinstate federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for the lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus).  Permian Basin Petrol. Ass ‘n v. Dep ‘t of the Interior, No. 7:14-CV-50 (W.D. Tex. Feb. 29,… Continue Reading

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