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”

Ninth Circuit Recently Slams PETA Over Monkey Selfie Lawsuit

Ninth Circuit Recently Slams PETA Over Monkey Selfie Lawsuit, Finding That PETA’s “Next Friend” Lawsuit Used Monkey as a “Pawn”

By: Michelle C. Pardo

As the old saying goes, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?”

Last year, animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), acting as a purported “next friend” of a Sulawesi crested macaque (named “Naruto”), brought a lawsuit in the Northern District of California against wildlife photographer David Slater and a self-publishing book company over a “selfie” that the macaque had taken when it grabbed wildlife photographer Slater’s camera.   PETA had alleged that the monkey, as author and owner of the photograph, had a claim for copyright infringement against defendants.  After finding that the monkey had constitutional standing, but no standing under the Copyright Act, the district court dismissed the case.  PETA appealed the case to the Ninth Circuit. Continue reading “Ninth Circuit Recently Slams PETA Over Monkey Selfie Lawsuit”

Court Affirms Duck Baiting Conviction

By John M. Simpson

In United States v. Obendorf, ___ F.3d ___, No. 16-30188 (9th Cir. July 9, 2018), a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the conviction of an Idaho man who had been charged with a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), 16 U.S.C. §§ 703-712, which, among other things, prohibits the baiting of  migratory birds to facilitate hunting them.  The indictment charged that the defendant, a farmer, had directed one of his corn fields to be harvested by strip-combining, in which alternating corn rows were left untouched, and such that excessive amounts of corn were left on the ground.  This was in apparent contrast to the defendant’s other corn fields that had been “neatly combined and fully harvested.”  Slip op. at 4. Continue reading “Court Affirms Duck Baiting Conviction”

9th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment of No Standing in Endangered Species Act Case

by  John M. Simpson

On June 28, 2018 a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed a summary judgment determining that certain environmental organizations had no Article III standing to pursue claims under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) as to financing authorizations by the Export-Import Bank of the United States with respect to two liquid natural gas projects in Queensland, Australia near the Great Barrier Reef.  Center for Biological Diversity v. Export-Import Bank of the United States, ___ F.3d ___, No. 16-15946 (9th Cir. June 28, 2018).  The court found that plaintiffs failed to satisfy the redressability requirement under the “relaxed standard” for standing in “procedural rights” cases.  Slip op. at 14.  Continue reading “9th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment of No Standing in Endangered Species Act Case”

New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Dismissal of Animal Cruelty Qui Tam Action

By John M. Simpson

In Goldman v. Critter Control of New Jersey, ___ A.3d ___, No. A-1392-16T2, 2018 WL 2089803 (N.J. App. Div. May 7, 2018), the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, recently affirmed the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by the former chief law enforcement officer for the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals against defendants who, plaintiff alleged, had violated the New Jersey Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), N.J.S.A. §§ 4:22-11.1 to 060.  The complaints sought to recover damages and civil penalties from the defendants “by way of qui tam.”  Id. at *1.  The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that plaintiff lacked standing to proceed with either lawsuit. Continue reading “New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Dismissal of Animal Cruelty Qui Tam Action”

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