Posts in Court Decisions.

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an area is eligible to be designated as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) only if the area is habitat for the relevant threatened or endangered species.  Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Dkt. No. 17-71.  The Court vacated the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision, which held that the ESA has no habitability requirement, and remanded the case to the Fifth Circuit to consider the meaning of habitat under the ESA.  Additionally, the Court held that a decision by the U.S. Fish and ...

On November 4, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina granted summary judgment in favor of conservation organizations Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, and Animal Welfare Institute in a case challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) administration of the recovery program for endangered red wolves (Canis rufus).

FWS began reintroducing red wolves in North Carolina in 1987.  Red wolves were designated as a non-essential experimental population under section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  As such, FWS may only ...

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In WildEarth Guardians et al. v. U.S. Department of Justice, Case Nos. 17-16677, 17-16678, 17-16679 (Oct. 23, 2018), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed plaintiff-appellees case challenging the U.S. Department of Justice’s McKittrick policy.  In reversing the lower court, the Ninth Circuit concluded that plaintiff-appellees lack standing to pursue the case. 

The McKittrick policy directs Department of Justice attorneys who prosecute Endangered Species Act (ESA) cases to request jury instructions that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a ...

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On October 22, 2018, the U.S. Court of International Trade denied the request of various federal agencies to stay an injunction banning the import of Mexican seafood caught with gill nets in the Gulf of California.  The injunction, granted in July, is intended to protect the endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus), which can get tangled in commercial fishing gill nets.  The injunction required the United States Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, United States Department of the Treasury, United States Department of Homeland Defense, and various ...

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The last several days have seen a flurry of activity in the federal courts in matters involving the Endangered Species Act (ESA):

  • In Crown Indian Tribe v. United States, CV 17-89-M-DLC, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana vacated (pdf) a June 30, 2017 final rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) delisting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis). The court held that the Service violated the ESA when it delisted the Greater Yellowstone grizzly distinct population segment (DPS) without any analysis of ...
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The U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico granted New Mexico’s motion for summary judgment in a case brought by the Humane Society seeking to invalidate State trapping regulations related to cougars (Puma concolor).  Plaintiffs argued that the regulations, which amended existing regulations that authorize trapping of cougars, violate the Endangered Species Act’s prohibition on take of protected species.  Plaintiffs reasoned that the amended regulations would inevitably cause the take of listed Mexican wolves (Canis lupus baileyi) since cougars and wolves ...

As we reported here, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the petition for writ of certiorari in Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 17-71, on January 22, 2018.  Petitioners challenge a 2-1 panel decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, affirming a rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), 77 Fed. Reg. 35118 (June 12, 2012), that designated critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) and included areas within the critical habitat that the frog does not and could not inhabit. Specifically, the ...

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On April 2, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed (pdf) a district court order directing that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) (collectively, the Federal Agencies) conduct spill operations and fish monitoring at dams and related facilities in the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS).  The appeal was the latest development in a long-running dispute regarding salmon and steelhead species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that are impacted by FCRPS ...

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In Friends of the River v. National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California rejected challenges to Army Corps of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service decisions regarding the impact of dams, hydropower facilities, and water diversions along the Yuba River on listed fish species, the spring-run Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha), the Central Valley steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and the North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris).  In so doing, the court addressed a number of issues that may arise ...

On February 12, 2018, in Alaska Oil & Gas Association v. National Marine Fisheries Service, Case No. 16-35380, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a 2016 decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska that vacated a final regulation listing the Arctic subspecies of ringed seal (Phoca hispida hispidaPhoca hispida ochotensis, and Phoca hispida botanica) as threatened and the Ladoga subspecies of ringed seal (Phoca hispida ladogensis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531 et seq. (ESA).

In a recent decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed (pdf) that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) permit allowing take of the barred owl (Strix varia) to protect the threatened Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) did not violate the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  The U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon held that nothing in the MBTA limits take of a species for scientific purposes to only those situations where the research is aimed at conservation of the species taken.

The case arose from the Service’s 2008 Recovery ...

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On January 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court granted review of the petition for writ of certiorari in Weyerhauser Co. v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, No. 17-71.  Petitioners challenge a 2-1 panel decision issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, affirming a rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) designating critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa) and including areas within critical habitat that the frog could not currently inhabit.

The dusky gopher frog spends most of its life underground in open-canopied pine forests.  ...

On December 27, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit partially reversed and remanded a decision by the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, delaying if not derailing an expansion in shallow-set longline swordfish fisheries.  Environmental groups brought claims against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) alleging violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Endangered Species Act (ESA), Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), and the National Environmental ...

On November 8, 2017, the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources approved an amendment to oil and gas-related legislation, the SECURE Act (H.R. 4239), that is intended to obviate liability for the incidental or accidental take of migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 16 U.S.C. § 703 et seq. (Act).  The amendment, submitted by Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), provides: This Act shall not be construed to prohibit any activity proscribed by section 2 of this Act that is accidental or incidental to the presence or operation of an otherwise lawful ...

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On August 28, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a district court decision upholding a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) determination that the Sonoran Desert Area bald eagle does not constitute a distinct population segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Zinke, No. 14-17513, 2017 WL 3687443 (9th Cir. Aug. 28, 2017).  The court deferred to the Service’s interpretation of its DPS policy, holding that the Service reasonably applied the relevant factors and considered scientific evidence to support ...

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On August 1, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a decision in Humane Society of the U.S. v. Zinke, Case No. 15-5041 (Aug. 1, 2017), affirming a district court decision that keeps the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of Grey Wolves on the List of Endangered and Threatened Species.  Plaintiffs in the case allege that the Secretary of the Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (collectively, Service) 2011 Final Rule (Rule) removing the DPS from the list of endangered and threatened species failed to consider two key ...

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On May 18, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s summary judgment decision in favor of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and other federal officials in an action brought by an environmental organization concerning the possible impacts of a Nevada solar power facility on the federally listed desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).  The Court rejected plaintiff’s contentions that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approvals for the construction and operation of the project ...

On May 17, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana and upheld the U.S. Forest Service’s (Forest Service) decision to construct 4.7 miles of new roads in the Kootenai National Forest. The Kootenai National Forest is managed pursuant to the Forest Service’s Kootenai National Forest Plan (Forest Plan) that includes access-related amendments prohibiting any net permanent increase[] in linear miles of total roads.  These Forest Plan access amendments incorporate a 2011 Biological Opinion and ...

On May 8, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted, in part, a motion for summary judgment brought by plaintiffs in a suit challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of the registration and use of 73 pesticides containing the active ingredients clothianidin and thiamethoxam.  See Ellis v. Housenger, Case No. 13-cv-01266-MMC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70107 (N.D. Cal. May 8, 2017).  Plaintiffs, a collection of individuals and a number of environmental and advocacy groups, alleged that EPA’s decision to allow ...

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On April 28, 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the District of Montana’s finding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) determination that listing the whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) as a threatened or endangered species is warranted but precluded.  Wildwest Inst. v. Kurth, No. 14-35431 (9th Cir. Apr. 28, 2017). Two environmental groups, Wildwest Institute and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (Plaintiffs), filed a lawsuit challenging the Service’s determination, asserting that the ...

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On April 11, 2017, the United States District Court for the District of Oregon ruled on parties’ objections to a federal magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations in a case challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) approval of temperature increases for over a dozen water bodies in Oregon under the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The court ruled against EPA and overturned the magistrate judge’s findings and recommendations with respect to environmental plaintiff’s ...

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On April 11, 2017, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) held in Carpenters Industrial Council v. Zinke, 2017 U.S.App.LEXIS 6175, that a lumber company trade association had standing to challenge a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regulation designating critical habitat for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurinan).  Reversing the district court’s decision, the D.C. Circuit found that plaintiff demonstrated a substantial probability that the regulation would decrease the supply of timber from ...

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On March 29, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit held (PDF) that Congress has authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate the take of the Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens).  Because Congress has this authority, it could authorize the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) to do the same.

The Utah prairie dog lives only in Utah.  Approximately 70 percent of the species’ population is on nonfederal land.  It was originally listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1973, but was reclassified as threatened in 1984.  At the time it was ...

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On March 3, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a final rule delisting the gray wolf in Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Defenders of Wildlife v. Zinke, No. 14-5300 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 3, 2017).  This decision is the most recent in a series of court rulings and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) actions that followed the Service’s initial 2011 proposal to delist the gray wolf in Wyoming based on the recovery of the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf population and the State of Wyoming’s conservation management plan for the wolf ...

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On February 27, 2017, the California Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeal decision dismissing a petition for writ of mandate regarding the California Fish and Game Commission’s (Commission) rejection of a petition to delist the population of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) south of San Francisco under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).  Central Coast Forest Assoc. v. Fish and Game Comm’n, Case No. S208181, 2017 Cal. LEXIS 1540 (Cal. Feb. 27, 2017).  The California Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeal erred by failing to consider the merits of the ...

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On February 21, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District (collectively, Water Contractors) lacked Article III standing to pursue an Endangered Species Act (ESA) claim against the U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (collectively, the Federal Defendants) in connection with the Federal Defendants’ water flow augmentation for the Lewiston Dam.  San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority v. Haugrud, Case Nos. 14-17493, 14-17506, 14-17515, and 14-17539.

The ...

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On June 13, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had properly included approximately 1,500 acres in Louisiana as designated critical habitat for the endangered dusky gopher frog (Rana sevosa), even though the frog did not inhabit the land and significant alterations would be required before the land could even be considered habitable.  Markle Interests, L.L.C. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 827 F.3d 452 (5th Cir. 2016).  (For a further discussion of the panel decision, see our prior ...

Two noteworthy cases have recently been issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.  The two cases address: (1) the interplay between the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and (2) the use of the deliberative process privilege to withhold potential administrative record documents in ESA litigation.

In Center for Biological Diversity v. U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1826 (9th Cir. Feb. 2, 2017), the Ninth Circuit reversed ...

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The last few weeks of 2016 involved several activities relating to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including the following:

  • On December 27, 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued the final ESA Compensatory Mitigation Policy. According to FWS, the new policy addresses permittee-responsible mitigation, conservation banking, in lieu fee programs, and other third-party mitigation mechanisms, and stresses the need to hold all compensatory mitigation mechanisms to equivalent and effective standards.  The Compensatory Mitigation Policy, which we previously ...
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On October 24, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service (Service) determination listing the Beringia Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of the Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus nauticus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Alaska Oil & Gas Ass'n v. Pritzker, No. 14-35806 (9th Cir. Oct. 24, 2016).  In doing so, the Ninth Circuit reversed the United States District Court for the District of Alaska.   The decision reinforces the fact that the Ninth Circuit applies a highly deferential standard ...

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The distinct population segment of the North American wolverine (Gulo gulf luscus) has had a long and difficult history with the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  However, things appeared to be changing in 2013, when, after denying a number of prior listing petitions at various stages of the process, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced its proposal to list the wolverine as a threatened species under the ESA, citing anticipated habitat loss due to climate change.  (See our February 3, 2013 post for a summary of this history.)  While this put the wolverine squarely on ...

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On October 11, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the U.S. Forest Service’s (Forest Service) petition for writ of certiorari to review the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit's decision in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. Forest Service, 789 F.3d 1075 (9th Cir. 2015).  The key issues in the case related to standing, the justiciability of programmatic planning documents, and whether section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may require a federal agency to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) even after the agency has taken a ...

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In the last several days there has been a flurry of end-of-summer activity, with federal courts issuing a number of Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions:

  • On September 2, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) violated the ESA by failing to properly consider the impacts of widening Highway 1 on the threatened California red-legged frog (Rana draytonii) and the endangered San Francisco garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis tetrataenia
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Primarily relying on precedent from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth and D.C. Circuits, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine recently dismissed an Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit challenging two biological opinions issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for four hydroelectric projects on the Kennebec River in Maine, finding that because the federal approvals triggering the biological opinions were issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the lawsuit had to be filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the first instance, not ...

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. Bureau of Land Management, No. 14-15836, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14949, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) challenged BLM’s adoption of a Recreational Area Management Plan (Plan) for off-road vehicles in the Imperial Sand Dunes Special Recreation ...

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 Service (Service) issued a 12-month finding under the ESA, and the complaint expressly alleged that the Service had not issued such a finding.  Friends of Animals v. Jewell, No. 15-5223 (D.C. Cir. July 15, 2016).

Under Section 4 ...

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 30, 2016).  The decision is remarkable because it upholds the determination by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to designate areas as critical habitat that are not currently habitable by the frog and have not been shown likely to be ...

On June 20, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-2 opinion in Encino Motorcars, LLC v. Navarro et al., holding that the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor Department) was not entitled to receive Chevron deference with respect to its 2011 regulation addressing overtime exemptions in the auto industry.  No. 15-415, slip op. (June 20, 2016).  So-called Chevron deference arose out of a 1984 Supreme Court decision holding that agency regulations receive deference where a statute is ambiguous and the agency’s interpretation is reasonable.  Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resource Defense ...

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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, No. 14-55842, 14-55666 (9th Cir. June 7, 2016).

Plaintiffs argued that BLM—by granting a right-of-way to Tule Wind LLC (Tule)—was "complicit" in future conduct by Tule that might result in violations of the MBTA.  Beyond this assertion of ...

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On June 3, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held in Friends of Animals v. Jewell (No. 1:14-cv-00357) that Plaintiff Friends of Animals (Plaintiff) had Article III standing to pursue a constitutional claim on the ground of informational injury.  The court, however, rejected the merits of Plaintiff’s challenge to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulation establishing a limited exemption from the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) section 9 take prohibition for three antelope species (scimitar-horned oryx, Oryx dammah; addax, Addax nasomaculatus; and ...

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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 in the initial planning stages and the County acknowledged that compliance with the ESA was required before any construction activities could take place. Florida Panthers v. Collier County, Case No. 2:13-cv-612 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 8 ...

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 the wolverine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The court’s decision is the newest chapter in what has been a contentious and storied path to a listing decision for the North American ...

On March 15, 2016, in Alaska Oil & Gas Association v. National Marine Fisheries Service, case number 4:14-cv-00029-RRB, the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska vacated a final regulation promulgated by the National Marine Fisheries Service ("NMFS") listing the Arctic subspecies of ringed seal (Phoca hispida hispida, Phoca hispida ochotensis, and Phoca hispida botanica) as threatened and the Ladoga subspecies of ringed seal (Phoca hispida ladogensis) as endangered under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").  The State of Alaska, North Slope Borough and the Alaska Oil ...

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, 2016.).  In September 2015, the court ruled on a challenge brought by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and four New Mexico counties and vacated the final rule listing the lesser prairie chicken as threatened under the ESA.  ...

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On February 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) designation of critical habitat in Alaska for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus).  Alaska Oil and Gas Ass’n v. Jewell, No. 13-35919 (9th Cir. Feb. 29, 2016).  The Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court’s decision, reinstating the previously vacated critical habitat designation.

In 2013, the district court granted summary judgment to plaintiffs on two grounds.  Substantively, the district court held that the Service failed to identify specifically where ...

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On February 11, 2016, in Kuehl v. Cricket Hollow Zoo, Case No. C14-2034, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa ruled that the owners and operators of the Cricket Hollow Zoo, located in rural Manchester, violated the Endangered Species Act's (ESA) take prohibition by failing to provide adequate sanitation and timely veterinary care to tigers, and failing to provide adequate sanitation, in compliance with generally accepted animal husbandry practices, and appropriate environmental enrichment to lemurs under their care.  The court reasoned that the ...

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Yes, no, maybe so. With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, many have already started to prognosticate about the sea change that will inevitably follow. While it is certainly possible that such a sea change will come to pass, it also possible that the Supreme Court will remain much as it has been for more than a decade, with a staunch 4-person conservative block, a staunch 4-person liberal block, leaving Justice Kennedy to decide who wins and who loses. This possibility exists, because right now there are numerous moving parts that could impact who will fill the ninth spot on the Court ...

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 of the 60-day notice is to give the federal government an opportunity to review and, if necessary, correct the alleged ESA violation before incurring the cost of ...

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 environmental groups asserted that the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) combined recovery project and logging plan to salvage acreage burned by the Douglas Complex Fire would irreparably harm the threatened ...

On November 30, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated decision in Center for Biological Diversity v. California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Case No. S217763 (Nov. 30, 2015).  The decision comes at the conclusion of a nearly five-year legal battle over the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) approval of an environmental impact report (EIR) for the Newhall Ranch development project (Newhall Ranch) in Los Angeles County.  Newhall Ranch was approved as a mixed-use development on nearly 12,000 acres of land along the Santa Clarita River.  ...

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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