• Posts by Brooke Marcus Wahlberg
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    Brooke Marcus Wahlberg is a natural resources lawyer focused on powering the economy while maintaining compliance with environmental laws. She is go-to counsel for matters involving the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the ...

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 the BiOp that the activities of the seven fisheries are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Northern Atlantic DPS.  The BiOp was accompanied by an ...

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On July 1, 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published notice of its 90-day findings on petitions to list 31 species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Of these 31 species, all of which occur in the United States, the Service made positive 90-day findings on 21 petitions.  A positive finding on a listing petition prompts a 12-month review of each species by the Service to determine whether listing is warranted.  Of the remaining ten petitions, the Service concluded that nine petitions failed to provide substantial information demonstrating that listing action may be warranted.  Most species addressed in the findings originated from a 53-species mega-petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) in July 2012.  If the Service finalizes its May 21, 2015 proposed rule to revise the regulations for species listing petitions, multi-species petitions such as the one filed by CBD will no longer be accepted by the Service.

Perhaps most notably, the Service’s publication included a denial of the petition to reclassify or downlist the gray wolf (Canis lupis) from its current status as endangered to threatened.  Twenty-two petitioners (including the Humane Society of the United States, CBD, and the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) signed the 2015 petition requesting reclassification of the gray wolf (excluding the Mexican wolf subspecies (Canis lupus baileyi) throughout the conterminous United States).  The Service first concluded that the petition failed to provide substantial information indicating that the population proposed for reclassification may qualify as a distinct population segment.  The Service acknowledged that this finding alone was enough to deny the petition for reclassification, but stated that the status of the gray wolf has been a source of significant controversy over the past few years, and due to the controversy, also concluded that the petition did not provide substantial information indicating that the gray wolf at large would qualify as threatened rather than endangered.

Nossaman’s Endangered Species Law & Policy blog focuses on news, events, and policies affecting endangered species issues in California and throughout the United States. Topics include listing and critical habitat decisions, conservation and recovery planning, inter-agency consultation, and related developments in law, policy, and science. We also inform readers about regulatory and legislative developments, as well as key court decisions.

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