Fourth Circuit Vacates Incidental Take Statement for Gas Pipeline

by John M. Simpson

On August 6, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit granted a petition setting aside an Incidental Take Statement (ITS) of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) which had been issued under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)  in connection with the approval of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 600-mile natural gas pipeline proposed to run through parts of West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.  Sierra Club, et al., v. U.S. Dep’t of the Interior, Nos. 18-1082 & 18-1083 (4th Cir. Aug. 6, 2018).   Continue reading “Fourth Circuit Vacates Incidental Take Statement for Gas Pipeline”

Court Rules Bengal Tiger Is Not An “Individual” Under FOIA

by John M. Simpson

In Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture, 2018 WL 23987812 (N.D. Cal. May 25, 2018), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California recently granted summary judgment to the government in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in which the plaintiff challenged the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “policy and practice of interpreting the statute to exclude nonhuman animals.”  The case arose out of a FOIA request by an animal rights organization for inspection records of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service concerning Tony the Tiger — a Bengal tiger maintained at a truck stop in Louisiana. Continue reading “Court Rules Bengal Tiger Is Not An “Individual” Under FOIA”

Fisheries Service Issues Incidental Taking Regulations

by John M. Simpson

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published final regulations in the Federal Register on July 27, 2918 governing the unintentional taking of marine mammals incidental to fisheries research conducted in the Pacific Ocean by the NMFS’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC).  83 Fed. Reg. 36370 (July 27, 2018).  The regulations are effective from August 27, 2018 through August 28, 2023.  Continue reading “Fisheries Service Issues Incidental Taking Regulations”

Small Fish, Big Problems: Mazda Toyota meets the Spring Pygmy Sunfish and the Endangered Species Act

by: Michelle C. Pardo

On July 25, 2018, environmental activist group, the Center for Biological Diversity, sent a 60-day notice letter to Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (and other Toyota entities), the City of Huntsville, Alabama, and the Secretary of the Interior and the US Fish and Wildlife Service providing notice of its intent to sue for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Center for Biological Diversity alleges that the construction and operation of a Toyota-Mazda automobile plant (“Auto Plant”) creates an illegal “take” of one of the two remaining populations of the endangered Spring Pygmy Sunfish (described as “an irreplaceable symbol of northern Alabama’s natural heritage”). The fish is alleged to live in the Beaverdam Spring and Creek Complex, which is adjacent to the Auto Plant site. Continue reading “Small Fish, Big Problems: Mazda Toyota meets the Spring Pygmy Sunfish and the Endangered Species Act”

Court Grants Summary Judgment Against HSUS in Endangered Species Act Case

by John M. Simpson

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico recently entered summary judgment against the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and other plaintiffs in a case brought under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) alleging that regulations issued by the New Mexico State Game Commission authorizing the  recreational trapping of cougars (Cougar Rule) will cause a “take” of Mexican gray wolves in violation of the ESA.  Humane Soc’y of the U.S. v. Kienzle, 2018 WL 3429924 (D.N. M. July 16, 2018).  Continue reading “Court Grants Summary Judgment Against HSUS in Endangered Species Act Case”

Fisheries Service Designates Critical Habitat for False Killer Whale Population

On July 24, 2018, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)  published a final rule in the Federal Register designating critical habitat for the Main Hawaiian Islands insular false killer whale distinct population segment.   The rule becomes effective on August 23, 2018. Continue reading “Fisheries Service Designates Critical Habitat for False Killer Whale Population”

Wildlife Agencies Announce Proposed Endangered Species Act Regulations

by John M. Simpson

On July 19, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced three proposed rulemakings that would revise the regulations pursuant to which the Services have implemented the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  These initiatives were the result of public comments solicited by the Services in response to Executive Order 13777, 82 Fed. Reg. 31576 (July 7, 2017), which sought comments on how federal agencies could improve the effectiveness and efficiency of federal regulations and the regulatory process.   Continue reading “Wildlife Agencies Announce Proposed Endangered Species Act Regulations”

PETA UK’s Effort to Ban Staffordshire Bull Terrier Fizzles

by John M. Simpson

A recent proposal by People for the Ethical of Animals UK (PETA UK) to add the Staffordshire bull terrier (a/k/a “staffies”) to the list of dogs banned by the UK’s Dangerous Dog Act of 1991 met a dead end in Parliament on July 16.  The proposal had arisen in response to a legal review conducted by the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  Once the PETA UK proposal surfaced, an e-petition campaign by owners and other supporters of the breed commenced, garnering nearly 180,000 signatures.  [Petition Summary.]   The petition called “on Parliament to save our staffies and not have them banned as dangerous dogs, because they are not.  People create dangerous dogs, people are the problem.”  Continue reading “PETA UK’s Effort to Ban Staffordshire Bull Terrier Fizzles”

Allowing Complaining Witness to Testify With Support Dog Leads to Reversal of Criminal Conviction

by John M. Simpson

In People v. Shorter, ___ N.W. 2d ___, 2018 WL 2746384 (Mich. App. June 7, 2018), the Court of Appeals of Michigan reversed a conviction for third degree criminal sexual conduct and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct because the trial court erred by granting the prosecution’s motion to allow the complaining witness to testify while accompanied by a support dog and its handler.  The matter was remanded for a new trial.  Continue reading “Allowing Complaining Witness to Testify With Support Dog Leads to Reversal of Criminal Conviction”