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Endangered Species Law and Policy

Category Archives: Fish & Wildlife Service

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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

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