U.S. Supreme Court Decides Dusky Gopher Frog Case

By John M. Simpson.

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in a closely watched Endangered Species Act (ESA) case involving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) designation of “critical habitat” for an endangered species known as the “dusky gopher frog” (Rana sevosa).  Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 586 U.S. ___, No. 17-71 (Nov. 27, 2018). The Court reversed the Fifth Circuit’s decision which had upheld the FWS designation. Continue reading “U.S. Supreme Court Decides Dusky Gopher Frog Case”

PETA Strikes Out Again in Eleventh Circuit

by John M. Simpson.

A petition for rehearing filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was recently denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in an Endangered Species Act (ESA) case involving a killer whale (Orcinus orca) maintained by the Miami Seaquarium.  The denial left standing a significant ruling by the court under the ESA.  PETA v. Miami Seaquarium, 879 F.3d 1142 (11th Cir. 2018).  Continue reading “PETA Strikes Out Again in Eleventh Circuit”

Asian Elephant Case Against Buttonwood Park Zoo Continues

by Michelle C. Pardo

An Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against the City of New Bedford will continue after a federal district judge in Massachusetts denied the defendant’s efforts to dismiss plaintiff Joyce Rowley’s lawsuit.  The City of New Bedford runs the Buttonwood Park Zoo, which has been home to two Asian elephants, Ruth and Emily, for decades.  Plaintiff Rowley runs an organization called Friends of Ruth & Emily Inc., which is dedicated to retiring Asian elephants Ruth and Emily to “a warm climate sanctuary to live out their days in peace, dignity, and freedom”.  In the last 25 months, it’s “Go Fund Me” page has raised just $10,025 of the requested $25,000 “to get justice” for the elephants. Continue reading “Asian Elephant Case Against Buttonwood Park Zoo Continues”

Interior Secretary Underscores State Role in Fish and Wildlife Regulation

by John M. Simpson.

In a move that could have significant effect with respect to the federal wildlife laws and regulations administered by the Department of the Interior, the Secretary of the Interior recently reaffirmed “the authority of the States to exercise their broad trustee and police powers as stewards of the Nation’s fish and wildlife species on public lands and waters under the jurisdiction of the Department.”  This action, stated in a September 10, 2018 memorandum to “Heads of Bureaus and Offices,” cited to the Department’s policy on state-federal relationships, 43 C.F.R., Part 24, and stressed that “State authority regarding fish and resident wildlife remains the comprehensive backdrop applicable in the absence of specific, overriding Federal law.  This 35-year-old rule is more relevant today than ever.”  Continue reading “Interior Secretary Underscores State Role in Fish and Wildlife Regulation”

Petting a Protected Species Can Cost You

by John M. Simpson.

A recent action by the Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) illustrates how seriously the agency takes incidents of “harassing” protected species.  According to a NOAA report, the agency fined a tourist $1,500 for “harassing” a monk seal and sea turtle on the Hawaiian island of Kau’i.  Continue reading “Petting a Protected Species Can Cost You”

Endangered Species Act Case Founders on Lack of 60-Day Notice

By John M. Simpson

A federal district court in New Hampshire recently dismissed a citizen suit making novel claims under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because the plaintiff could not prove that he had provided the required 60-day notice to the defendants prior to suit.  Strahan v. Nielsen, 2018 WL 3966318 (D.N.H. Aug. 17, 2018).  Continue reading “Endangered Species Act Case Founders on Lack of 60-Day Notice”

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 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”