All posts by John M. Simpson

Ninth Circuit Rejects Activist Appeal in Endangered Dugong Case

by John M. Simpson.

On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the government in a case brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and other plaintiffs to challenge a decision by the Department of Defense (DOD) approving a plan to construct a replacement aircraft base in Okinawa, Japan, for the U.S. Marine Corps.  Center for Biological Diversity v. Esper, __ F.3d __, No. 18-16836 (9th Cir. May 6, 2020).  In this case, which had originated in 2003, the issue was whether DOD had complied with section 402 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), 54 U.S.C. § 307101(e). Continue reading Ninth Circuit Rejects Activist Appeal in Endangered Dugong Case

CDC Confirms 2 Companion Animals in U.S. with SARS-CoV-2 Virus

by John M. Simpson.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported today that two pet cats at undisclosed locations in the State of New York are confirmed to be positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that characterizes the human disease COVID-19.  These are the first cases of companion animals (pets) in the U.S. confirmed to have the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Continue reading CDC Confirms 2 Companion Animals in U.S. with SARS-CoV-2 Virus

International Scientific Advisory Group Continues Its Focus on SARS-CoV-2 and Animals

by John M. Simpson.

On April 7, 2020, the Informal Advisory Group on COVID-19 and Animals of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) conducted the fifth in a series of conference calls concerning issues involving the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its effect on animals and animal-related issues.  SARS-CoV-2 is the scientific nomenclature for the coronavirus that causes the human illness known as COVID-19. Continue reading International Scientific Advisory Group Continues Its Focus on SARS-CoV-2 and Animals

Developments Regarding COVID-19 and Animals

by John M. Simpson.

Recent reports of a Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus at that causes the human illness known as COVID-19, have focused attention on the effects that the current pandemic may have upon animals.

Continue reading Developments Regarding COVID-19 and Animals

Animal Rights Challenge to Fisheries Service Decision on Disclosure of Necropsies Dismissed by Federal District Court

By John M. Simpson.

On March 26, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by certain animal rights advocates and organizations against several federal defendants challenging a decision of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) declining to enforce a permit condition allegedly requiring a marine mammal park to submit a necropsy report concerning a killer whale obtained the permit. Marino, et al. v. Nat’l Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin., et al., No. 18-cv-2750 (DLF) (D.D.C. Mar. 26, 2020). Continue reading Animal Rights Challenge to Fisheries Service Decision on Disclosure of Necropsies Dismissed by Federal District Court

National Zoo Elephant’s Passing Underscores Longevity of Captive Elephants

by John M. Simpson.

On March 28, 2020, the National Zoo announced the passing of one of the oldest Asian elephants maintained in a zoological environment. The elephant Ambika, who had resided at the National Zoo for 59 years was estimated to be 72 years old at the time of death. Continue reading National Zoo Elephant’s Passing Underscores Longevity of Captive Elephants

New York Court Denies Habeas Petition for Bronx Zoo Elephant

by John M. Simpson.

On February 18, 2020, a trial court in Bronx County, New York, denied a habeas corpus petition filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) on behalf of “Happy,” a 48-year old Asian elephant residing in the Bronx Zoo.  Nonhuman Rights Project v. Breheny, No. 260441/19 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Bronx Cty. Feb. 18, 2020). The court ruled, based on binding New York precedent, that “Happy” is not a “person” for purposes of habeas corpus relief. Continue reading New York Court Denies Habeas Petition for Bronx Zoo Elephant

D.C. District Court Rejects Challenge to BLM Wild Horse Removal Decisions

by John M. Simpson.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently rejected claims challenging actions by the U.S. Department of Interior, acting through the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), to remove wild horses from an area of federal land in Nevada known as the Caliente Complex. In 2008, BLM issued a resource management plan (RMP) for the area that, due to wild hors e overpopulation and the ecological effects that stemmed therefrom, effectively set an appropriate management level of wild horses as zero for the entire Complex.  BLM thereupon removed horses from the Complex, but due to overpopulation and ecological imbalance, BLM determined in 2018 that all wild horses be removed (2018 Gather Decision).  Plaintiffs challenged both actions as contrary to the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WHBA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court granted summary judgment for the federal defendants and dismissed all claims.   American Wild Horse Campaign v. Bernhardt, No. 18-1529 (BAH) (D.D.C. Feb. 13, 2020). Continue reading D.C. District Court Rejects Challenge to BLM Wild Horse Removal Decisions

D.C. District Court Dismisses Endangered Species Act Case for Lack of Article III Standing

by John M. Simpson.

A U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia recently dismissed a lawsuit brought under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the federal Administrative Procedure Act by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) against the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).  Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt, No. 18-2576 (RC) (D.D.C. Feb. 12, 2020).  CBD asserted that FWS’s guidelines for species-specific species status assessments (SSA’s) were issued without the requisite notice and comment.  The guidelines for species-specific SSA’s provide an analytical framework for the agency’s listing and critical habitat decisions under the ESA.  The court dismissed the case for lack of Article III standing. Continue reading D.C. District Court Dismisses Endangered Species Act Case for Lack of Article III Standing

Mental Health Service Dog Bill For Veterans Passes House

by John M. Simpson.

On February 5, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, H.R. 4305, entitled the “Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act” or “PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act.”  If the bill becomes law it would establish a pilot program in which grants from the Department of Veterans Affairs would be made to assess the “effectiveness of addressing post-deployment mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder … symptoms through a therapeutic medium of training service dogs for veterans with disabilities.”  Among other things, grantee organizations would ensure that participating veterans would receive “training from certified service dog training instructors for a period of time determined appropriate … including service skills to address or alleviate symptoms unique to veterans’ needs.” Continue reading Mental Health Service Dog Bill For Veterans Passes House