Grizzly Bear “Taking” Conviction Reversed by 9th Circuit

By John M. Simpson

On June 26, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed the conviction of a Montana man who had been convicted of a criminal violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for shooting and killing a grizzly bear that was harassing the horses in a pasture behind the defendant’s rural home.  United States v. Charette, ___ F.3d ___, No. 17-30059 (9th Cir. June 26, 2018).  The government had charged the defendant with one count of “taking” a threatened species in violation of the ESA.  The defendant was convicted in a bench trial before a magistrate judge, and the conviction was affirmed by the district court. Continue reading “Grizzly Bear “Taking” Conviction Reversed by 9th Circuit”

Court Denies Habeas Petition Filed on Behalf of Elephants

By John M. Simpson

A Connecticut Superior Court Judge recently issued an opinion further elaborating on his prior decision to deny a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed on behalf of three elephants (two Asian and one African) owned by a zoo in Connecticut.  Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. ex rel. Beulah, Minnie and Karen v. R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc., No. LLICV175009822S, 2018 WL 3014069 (Conn. Super Ct. May 23, 2018).  The action had been brought on behalf of the elephants “Beulah,” “Minnie” and “Karen” by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NHRP), arguing that the animals possessed emotional, social and intellectual attributes sufficient for common law personhood and for the common law right to the bodily liberty protected by the writ.  The May 23 decision expanded upon the reasons why the court previously had found the habeas petition to be “wholly frivolous on its face.” Continue reading “Court Denies Habeas Petition Filed on Behalf of Elephants”

Trump Administration Announces Plan to Consolidate Wildlife Agencies

The Trump Administration recently announced a proposal to merge the operations of the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) into the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Historically, NMFS has been charged with administration of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), focusing primarily upon marine mammals, while FWS has administered the Endangered Species Act (ESA) primarily with respect to species located upon land or inland fisheries. The reorganization initiative is part of a larger plan entitled Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendation, containing proposals affecting several federal agencies. Continue reading “Trump Administration Announces Plan to Consolidate Wildlife Agencies”

Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Guidance on Incidental Take Permits

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), the agency within the Department of Interior with primary responsibility for the administration and enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), issued new guidance on April 26, 2018, addressing the triggering circumstances for an incidental take permit (ITP) under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the ESA. The guidance was issued in a Memorandum (Mem.) from the Principal Deputy Director to Regional Directors. Continue reading “Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Guidance on Incidental Take Permits”