Endangered Species: Related Cases

Case namesort descending Citation Summary
Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Austin 55 F. Supp. 3d 1294 (D. Mont. 2014) Plaintiff challenged the defendants' approval of the Rennic Stark Project in the Ninemile Ranger District of the Lolo National Forest under the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The Project proposed a host of forest management measures. Under the National Environmental Protection Act, the defendant published an Environmental Assessment (“EA”) for the project in November 2012. The EA discussed the likely effects of the project on a number of wildlife species, including the ESA-listed threatened Canada lynx, the Forest Service-sensitive fisher, the Forest Service-sensitive North American wolverine, goshawk, and westslope cutthroat trout. The defendant signed and issued a Decision Notice adopting Alternative 2 from the EA, as well as a Finding of No Significant Impact. Plaintiff timely appealed the defendant's decision, but the defendant denied the appeal. Plaintiff then filed its complaint in this court and moved for summary judgment. Defendants filed their cross-motion for summary judgment. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment was denied on all claims and defendants’ motion for summary judgment was granted on all claims.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Salazar 672 F.3d 1170 (9th Cir. 2012) Environmental organizations challenged constitutionality of Section 1713 of the 2011 Appropriations Act ordering Secretary of Interior to reissue a final rule removing a distinct gray wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains from protections of Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Court of Appeals held that the statute did not violate the separation of powers doctrine, and reasoned that Congress amended, rather than repealed, ESA as to delisting of gray wolf by directing Secretary to reissue rule without regard to any other statute or regulation.
Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. Weber 979 F.Supp.2d 1118 (D.Mont.,2013)

An environmental group sued the U.S. Forest Service claiming it violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) when it permitted the implementation of the Flathead National Forest Precommercial Thinning Project. The court that the defendants' designation of matrix habitat was not arbitrary and that there was no showing of irreparable harm to lynx habitat to require the Service to be enjoined from implementing project. Likewise, plaintiffs’ claims regarding the grizzly bear’s critical habitat did not prevail; nor did the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the National Forest Management Act’s Inland Native Fish Strategy. The court, therefore, granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs' motion.

Alliance for Wild Rockies v. Lyder 728 F.Supp.2d 1126 (D.Mont., 2010)

Plaintiffs challenge the USFWS' 2009 designation of approximately 39,000 sq. miles of critical habitat for the United States distinct population segment of the Canada lynx. Specifically, they contend that the Service: (1) arbitrarily failed to designate occupied critical habitat in certain national forests in Montana and Idaho, as well as in Colorado entirely; (2) arbitrarily failed to designate any unoccupied critical habitat whatsoever; and (3) failed to base its decision on the "best scientific data available." The court concluded that the FWS arbitrarily excluded areas occupied by lynx in Idaho and Montana and failed to properly determine whether areas occupied by the lynx in Colorado possess the attributes essential to the conservation of the species.

American Bald Eagle v. Bhatti 9 F.3d 163 (Mass.,1993)
A group of animal preservationists filed suit to enjoin deer hunting on a Massachusetts reservation because it contended that the activity posed such a risk to bald eagles so as to constitute a prohibited “taking” under the ESA. The essence of the plaintiff's argument was that some of the deer shot by hunters would not be recovered and then eagles would consume these deer thereby ingesting the harmful lead slugs from the ammunition. The district court denied the preliminary injunction, ruling that appellants failed to show a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits. On appeal of the denial for injunction, this Court held that plaintiff failed to meet the showing of actual harm under the ESA. There was no showing in the record of harm to any bald eagles during the deer hunt of 1991 and the record fully supported the trial judge's conclusion.
American Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Feld Entertainment, Inc. 677 F.Supp.2d 55, 2009 WL 5159752 (D.D.C., 2009)

This opinion represents the nine-year culmination of litigation brought by plaintiff Tom Rider and Animal Protection Institute (API) against Defendant Feld Entertainment, Inc. (“FEI”) - the operator of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey traveling circus. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant's use of bullhooks and prolonged periods of chaining with respect to its circus elephants violates the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531, et seq. This Court held that plaintiffs failed to establish standing under Article III of the United States Constitution and entered judgment in favor of defendants. Since the Court concluded that plaintiffs lack standing, it did not reach the merits of plaintiffs' allegations that FEI “takes” its elephants in violation of Section 9 of the ESA. 

American Soc. for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Feld Entertainment, Inc. 659 F.3d 13 (C.A.D.C., 2011)

The Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, affirmed the lower court's finding that plaintiffs lack standing to sue Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus for violation of the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, plaintiffs allege that the use of two training methods for controlling elephants, bullhooks and chaining, constitute a "taking" under the Act. Here, the court found no clear error by the district court as to former employee Tom Rider's standing to sue where Rider's testimony did not prove an injury-in-fact. As to API's standing, the court held that API did not meet either informational standing or standing under a Havens test.

American Society For Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus 317 F.3d 334 (C.A.D.C.,2003)

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Fund for Animals, and Thomas Rider sued Ringling Bros. and its owner, Feld Entertainment, Inc., claiming that Asian elephants are an endangered species and that the circus mistreated its elephants in violation of the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq. The only question was whether, as the district court ruled in dismissing their complaint, plaintiffs (including a former elephant handler) lack standing under Article III of the Constitution.  The Court of Appeals held that the former elephant handler demonstrated present or imminent injury and established redressability where the elephant handler alleged enough to show that his injuries will likely be redressed if he is successful on the merits.

American Society For Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus 246 F.R.D. 39 (D.D.C.,2007)

In this case, the court considered the parties’ respective motions for reconsideration. On August 23, 2007, the Court granted summary judgment to defendant as to elephants subject to a captive-bred wildlife (“CBW”) permit and denied summary judgment as to elephants for which defendant claimed a “pre-Act” exemption. Defendant has filed a motion for reconsideration challenging the Court's decision regarding the “pre-Act” elephants and plaintiff has filed a motion for reconsideration challenging the Court's decision regarding the CBW permit elephants. Defendant’s motion was granted in part as to the standing of plaintiff, Tom Rider. The court held that Rider’s standing is now limited to those six elephants to which he became “emotionally attached.” Notably, the court ended its opinion with a “hint to the wise” that the court will not tolerate any further filings inconsistent with FRCP.

American Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus 2008 WL 3411666 (D.D.C.)

On Plaintiffs’ motion to compel discovery from Defendants, The United States District Court, District of Columbia, determined that “master schedules” and “performance reports” were not documents pertaining to the chaining of elephants, and/or describing practices and procedures for maintaining elephants on the train, and Plaintiffs were therefore not entitled to such documents. The Court could not determine whether certain audio tapes demanded by Plaintiffs pertained to the medical condition or health status of any Asian elephants in Defendants’ custody during a specified time-frame, or pertained to the investigation of Defendants’ operation conducted by the Department of Agriculture, without being given the opportunity to listen to and review the audio tapes. Plaintiffs’ mere speculation that Defendants hired an outside consulting firm to follow and/or counteract a previous employee’s efforts did not entitle Plaintiffs to any further judicial action.

American Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals, v. Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus 502 F.Supp.2d 103 (D.D.C., 2007) Plaintiffs-ASPCA filed suit against Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Feld Entertainment, Inc, under the citizen-suit provision of the Endangered Species Act.  Plaintiffs allege that FEI routinely beats elephants, chains them for long periods of time, hits them with sharp bull hooks, breaks baby elephants with force to make them submissive, and forcibly removes baby elephants from their mothers before they are weaned. This conduct, plaintiffs contend, violates the "take" provision of the ESA. In the court's opinion regarding defendants' motion for summary judgment, the court held that the pre-Act exemption does not insulate defendant from claims of taking under the ESA. However, the court found that the captive-bred wildlife (CBW) permit held by defendant does not allow for challenge under a citizen-suit provision.
Animal Rights Front, Inc. v. Jacques 869 A.2d 679 (Conn. 2005)

An environmental nonprofit organization sought an injunction to prevent a housing development from being constructed.  The nonprofit organization claimed the development was in violation of the Connecticut Endangered Species Act because it would destroy the habitat of an endangered rattlesnake.  The trial court held the development was lawful and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Animal Rights Front, Inc. v. Planning & Zoning Com'n of Town of Glastonbury 2002 WL 31761999 (Conn.Super.)

The plaintiff, Animal Rights Front, Inc., an environmental intervenor, appeals from a final decision of the defendant that gave subdivision and special permit approval to an application by defendant Rejean Jacques d/b/a Rejean Realty, Inc.  The basic issue of the plaintiff's appeal relates to preservation of the Eastern Timber Rattlesnake, an endangered species common to the Diamond Lake section of Glastonbury, and its migration across the development project, which would inherently lead to mortality.  On appeal, defendants questioned plaintiff's standing because they contended that rattlesnakes do not fall under the category of "natural resources."  Relying on a companion case, the court noted that endangered species are inherently deemed natural resources.  However in dismissing plaintiff's appeal, the court found that the defendant made changes that provided for the protection of the rattlesnake and the commission reasonably relied upon these assertions by the defendant to support its conclusions so it was not required to consider alternatives to the proposed development.

Animal Welfare Institute v. Martin 623 F.3d 19 (C.A.1 (Me.), 2010).

Animal welfare organizations sued the State of Maine under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop the authorization of trapping activity that affected Canada lynx. The Court of Appeals held that such organizations had standing to sue, but that the District Court did not err in its refusal to grant a permanent injunction banning foothold traps or other relief.

Animal Welfare Institute v. Martin 588 F.Supp.2d 110, (D.Me.,2008)

After Defendant, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (“DIFW”) adopted an emergency rule imposing limitations on the use of Conibear traps in response to a preliminary injunction issued by the Court after the death of a Canada lynx, a threatened species, Plaintiffs moved for an emergency temporary restraining order to enjoin the DIFW from allowing the use of Conibear traps for the remainder of the State’s trapping season after the death of an additional Canada lynx, caused by an illegally set Conibear trap.   The United States District Court, D. Maine denied Plaintiffs’ motion, finding that Plaintiffs failed to show a causal connection between the State’s licensure and regulation of the trapping and any Endangered Species Act violations resulting from the lynx’s death.

Animal Welfare Institute v. Martin 665 F.Supp.2d 19 (D.Me., 2009)

Plaintiffs in this case filed motions for a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order to halt the commencement of the early coyote and fox trapping season in the state of Maine. Plaintiffs claim that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (DIFW)Commissioner had violated the ESA by allowing trapping activities that “take” Canada lynx, a threatened species. The DIFW stated that the Court has already addressed a motion for preliminary injunction and an emergency motion for temporary restraining order, with no change to circumstances. In denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction and TRO, the Court found that Plaintiffs had not sustained their burden to justify the extraordinary remedy of an injunction. Further, the Court found that the circumstances that led the Court to deny the Plaintiffs' emergency motion for a temporary restraining order have not changed.

ARFF, Inc. v. Siegel 867 So.2d 451 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2004)

Resort developer and president of an animal performance company received an injunction against an animal rights group limiting their ability to both picket the resort and distribute pamphlets claiming that the big cats were abused.  Appellate court reversed, finding that the picketing regulations burdened more speech than necessary and that the restriction on distributing pamphlets was a prior restraint not justified by a compelling state interest.

Arizona Cattle Growers' Association v. Salazar 606 F.3d 1160, (C.A.9 (Ariz.),2010)

Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association (Plaintiff) challenged Fish and Wildlife Service's (Defendant) designation of critical habitat for Mexican spotted owls under the Endangered Species Act. The issues were whether Defendant impermissibly included unoccupied areas as critical habitat, and whether Defendant impermissibly employed the baseline approach in its economic analysis. The Court held that 1) Defendant did not designate unoccupied areas as critical habitat because “occupied” areas included areas where the species was likely to be present, and 2) that Defendant properly applied the baseline approach because the economic impact of listing a species as endangered was not intended to be included in the economic analysis of the critical habitat designation.

Babbitt v. Sweet Home Chapter of Communities for a Great Oregon 515 U.S. 687 (1995) (edited from Syllabus of the Court) As relevant here, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA or Act) makes it unlawful for any person to “take” endangered or threatened species, § 9(a)(1)(B), and defines “take” to mean to “harass, harm, pursue,” “ wound,” or “kill,” § 3(19). In 50 CFR § 17.3, petitioner Secretary of the Interior further defines “harm” to include “significant habitat modification or degradation where it actually kills or injures wildlife.” Respondents, persons and entities dependent on the forest products industries and others, challenged this regulation on its face, claiming that Congress did not intend the word “take” to include habitat modification. Held: The Secretary reasonably construed Congress' intent when he defined “harm” to include habitat modification.
Cabinet Resource Group v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 465 F.Supp.2d 1067 (D. Mont. 2006)

The Forest Service builds roads in National Forests, and has to determine what density of road coverage is safe for grizzly bear survival in making its Land Use Plan. Here, the Land Use Plan did not violate the Endangered Species Act, because an agency action is not required to help the survival of an endangered species, it simply may not reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the endangered species, grizzly bears. However, because the Forest Service relied upon a scientific study with acknowledged weaknesses to make its road standards, but failed to adequately address those weaknesses in its Final Environmental Impact Statement, the Forest Service violated NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act).

Caribbean Conservation Corp., Inc. v. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Com'n 838 So.2d 492(Fla. 2003)

The petitioners' challenge is whether the Legislature can require the newly created Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) to comply with the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), when adopting rules or regulations in respect to those species of marine life that are defined as endangered, threatened, or species of special concern. The petitioners are not-for-profit groups and individuals who allege several statutory sections unconstitutionally usurp the constitutional authority of the FWCC to regulate marine life.  The FWCC and the Attorney General (respondents) disagree and argue that the Legislature can require the application of the APA and that the statutes that delineate power to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are constitutional.  The issue was whether the creation of the FWCC also gave it power to regulate endangered, threatened, and species of special concern or whether that power remained with the DEP.  The court found that such power remained with the DEP regarding endangered and threatened species of marine life.  However, it could discern no statutory basis in effect on March 1, 1998, for the DEP having regulatory or executive power in respect to a category of marine species designated "of special concern" so that portion of the challenged statutes was held unconstitutional.

Carpenters Indus. Council v. Salazar 734 F.Supp.2d 126 (D.D.C., 2010)

Plaintiffs, Carpenters Industrial Council, among several, averred that the FWS, in designating the owl as a "threatened species," violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the ESA, and the Administrative Procedure Act. Defendant, the FWS, confess legal error as to the northern spotted owl’s 2008 Critical Habitat Designation and 2008 Recovery Plan and ask that the court: (1) remand and vacate the 2008 Designation; (2) remand the 2008 Plan; and (3) order the FWS to revise its recovery plan and, if necessary, thereafter complete a new critical habitat designation. First, as to Defendant’s request to remand the designation, the court held that it, in fact, has such authority to do so, and such action is moreover appropriate, since the Washington Oversight Committee erred in proffering "jeopardizing" advice to the FWS. However, as to the whether the 2008 Designation may be vacated, the court concluded that it lacked the authority to do so "at this stage of the litigation." As to whether the 2008 Recovery Plan may be vacated, the court held that, given the interconnectedness of the 2008 Designation and the 2008 Plan, remand is appropriate.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Badgley 335 F.3d 1097 (C.A.9 (Or.),2003)

The Center for Biological Diversity and eighteen other nonprofit organizations appealed the district court's summary judgment in favor of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  The Center claimed the Secretary of the Interior violated the Endangered Species Act by making an erroneous, arbitrary, and capricious determination that listing the Northern Goshawk (a short-winged, long-tailed hawk that lives in forested regions of higher latitude in the northern hemisphere and is often considered an indicator species) in the contiguous United States west of the 100th meridian as a threatened or endangered species was not warranted.  In the absence of evidence that the goshawk is endangered or likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future, the court found the FWS's decision was not arbitrary or capricious and affirmed the summary disposition.

Center for Biological Diversity v. California Fish & Game Com'n 2008 WL 4055216 (Cal. App. 3 Dist.)

The California Fish & Game Commission (Commission) rejected a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (Center) to add the California tiger salamander to the Commission’s list of endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA), on grounds that the petition lacked sufficient information to indicate that the listing may be warranted. The Court of Appeal, Third District, California, held that the Trial Court did not err in directing the Commission to enter a decision accepting the Center’s petition, as inferences drawn from evidence offered in support of the petition clearly afforded sufficient information to indicate that listing action may be warranted. The Court found that information in the administrative record indicating that the salamander species “does not breed prolifically, is vulnerable to several significant threats, has lost most of its original habitat, and has been displaced by a hybrid from a significant portion of its range” was not outweighed by the Commission’s evidence and arguments regarding the introduction of artificial ponds which could provide increased breeding habitat, and the listing of the species under the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Chertoff Slip Copy, 2009 WL 839042 (N.D.Cal.)

Plaintiff, the Center for Biological Diversity, brought an action against Defendant, the United States Coast Guard, alleging that Defendant violated the ESA by failing to consult with the NMFS to ensure that Defendant’s activities in the Santa Barbara Channel and other shipping lanes off the California Coast would not harm the continued existence of threatened and/or endangered species after Defendant amended Traffic Separation Schemes (“TSS”) and a number of blue whales were subsequently struck by ships and killed.   On the parties’ cross motions for summary judgment, the United States District Court , N.D. California dismissed Plaintiff’s claims pertaining to Defendant’s implementation of or actions under the TSS in the approaches to Los Angeles – Long Beach and granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denied Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment with respect to Defendant’s alleged violations of the ESA arising out of Defendant’s implementation of or actions under the TSS in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Henson Slip Copy, 2009 WL 1882827 (D.Or.)

Defendants brought a motion to stay in an action brought by Plaintiffs seeking re-initiation of consultation under ESA with respect to the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Habitat Conservation Plan promulgated in 1995 and their Incidental Take Permit obtained in 1995, which allows incidental taking of Northern Spotted Owls for sixty years in connection with timber harvest in the Elliot State Forest.  The United States District Court granted Defendants’ motion, finding that the potential harm and likelihood of damage to Plaintiffs if the action is stayed is low. The court also found that Defendants showed an adequate likelihood of hardship in having to go forward without a stay. The stay would likely result in the action ultimately becoming moot and/or at the very least greatly simplified, therefore saving judicial time and resources.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne 607 F.Supp.2d 1078 (D.Ariz.,2009)

Cross motions for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ claim against Defendants, the Secretary of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging that the Secretary’s failure to designate critical habitat and prepare a recovery plan for the jaguar was unlawful under the ESA.   The United States District Court, D. Arizona granted Plaintiffs’ motion in part and denied Plaintiffs’ motion in part, finding that Defendants’ determination that designation of a critical habitat would not be prudent must be set aside because it did not appear to be based on the best scientific evidence available as required by the ESA, and that Defendants’ determination not to prepare a recovery plan must also be set aside and remanded for further consideration because the determination was inconsistent with Defendants’ own policy guidance and long-standing practice concerning the distinction between foreign and domestic species.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne 2008 WL 1902703 (N.D.Cal. 2008)

Plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) seeks to compel Defendants to perform their mandatory duty under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to publish a final listing determination for the polar bear. Plaintiffs have filed a summary judgment motion seeking an injunction and declaratory judgment to this effect. The action began back in 2005 when CBD petitioned to list the polar bear as endangered under the ESA.  Plaintiffs' action arises from Defendants' failure to issue a final listing determination and critical habitat designation by January 9, 2008-within one year of publication of the proposed rule-as required by the ESA (16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(6)). Since Defendants missed this non-discretionary deadline, and there was no dispute of material fact, summary judgment was granted by the court.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne 2008 WL 4542947 (N.D.Cal.)

Plaintiffs brought various claims against Defendants relating to Defendants’ final rule designating the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and Defendants’ promulgation of a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA, allowing certain activities with respect to the polar bear that might otherwise be prohibited.   The United States District Court, N.D. California tentatively granted a non-profit organization’s motion to intervene with respect to the action challenging Defendants’ section 4(d) rule as contrary to the ESA, finding that although the Organization did not show that the current Plaintiffs will not adequately represent the Organization’s interest, a decision for Defendants could jeopardize the Organization’s interests and the Organization’s motion was timely.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne Slip Copy, 2008 WL 4543043 (N.D.Cal.)

In an action alleging multiple violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) pursuant to Defendants’ final rule designating the polar bear as threatened and promulgation of a special rule under section 4(d) of the ESA, Defendants Kempthorne and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service brought a motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Intervenor-Defendant Arctic Slope Regional Corporation brought a separate motion to transfer the case to the District of Alaska, and Intervenor-Defendant Alaska Oil and Gas Association filed a motion with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL Panel) seeking to transfer the case to the D.C. District Court .   The United States District Court, N.D. California denied the motion to transfer the case to the District of Alaska, and decided to take the motion to transfer to the District of Columbia into submission and rule on it once the MDL Panel has issued its decision on whether to transfer the case to the District of Columbia.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Lohn 483 F.3d 984 (C.A.9 (Wash.), 2007)

This case questions whether the federal government's policy for listing killer whales under the Endangered Species Act is invalid. The Fish and Wildlife Service initially issued a proposed ruling that listing the Southern Resident was “not warranted” because the Southern Resident was not “significant” to its taxon. The district court set aside the Service's “not warranted” finding, and ordered the Service to reexamine whether the Southern Resident should be listed as an endangered species and to issue a new finding within twelve months. After again being challenged by plaintiff, the Service issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered (as opposed to threatened) species. The Service contends that this case is now moot because it has, since the district court's decision, issued a proposed rule that recommended listing the Southern Resident as a threatened species and ultimately has issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered species. This court agreed, and thus vacated the district court's order and remanded the case with instructions to dismiss the case as moot.

Center For Biological Diversity v. Lohn 511 F.3d 960 (C.A.9 (Wash.), 2007)

In this case, the court is asked to decide whether the federal government's policy for listing killer whales under the Endangered Species Act is invalid. The Center for Biological Diversity, along with eleven co-petitioners not parties to this appeal, petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to list the Southern Resident killer whale as an endangered species under the ESA. Initially, the Service issued a proposed ruling based on its DPS policy that concluded listing the Southern Resident was “not warranted” because the Southern Resident was not “significant” to its taxon. After the Center challenged this action, the district court set aside the Service's “not warranted” finding because it failed to utilize the best available scientific data when determining whether the Southern Resident was “significant” under that policy. Pursuant to the district court's order, the Service reexamined the listing petition and issued a proposed rule that recommended listing the Southern Resident as a threatened species. The Center appealed, and the Service issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as endangered (as opposed to threatened). The Service contends that this case is now moot because it has ultimately issued a final rule listing the Southern Resident as an endangered species. This court agreed, finding that declaring the DPS Policy unlawful would serve no purpose in this case because the Service has listed the Southern Resident as an endangered species, the Center's ultimate objective.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Lubchenco 758 F.Supp.2d 945 (N.D.Cal., 2010)
In this civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief, the court found that Defendants did not violate the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in failing to list the ribbon seal as threatened or endangered due to shrinking sea ice habitat essential to the species’ survival. Defendants did not act arbitrarily and capriciously in concluding that the impact of Russia’s commercial harvest on the ribbon seal was low, that 2050 was the “foreseeable future” due to uncertainty about global warming and ocean acidification farther into the future, or its choice of scientific and commercial data to use. The Court denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and granted Defendants' Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Morgenweck 351 F.Supp.2d (D. Co. 2004)

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service completed a review of an environmental group petition that requested the Yellowstone cutthroat trout be listed as an endangered species.  The United States Fish and Wildlife Service refused to list the fish as an endangered species and the environmental group brought an action to set aside the agency's findings.  The District Court held in favor of the environmental group reasoning the agency's rejection of the petition was arbitrary and capricious and the review of the petition was not conducted properly.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Norton 240 F.Supp.2d 1090 (D.Ariz. 2003)

This lawsuit arises out of the Fish and Wildlife Service's ("FWS") designation of approximately 30% of the critical habitat originally proposed for the Mexican spotted owl (Strix occidentalis lucida ) under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA").  In analyzing the FWS's decision under both the standard of review for the APA and the deference afforded by the Chevron standard, the court found that the FWS's interpretation of "critical habitat" was "nonsensical."  It is not determinative whether the habitat requires special management, but, pursuant to the ESA, it is whether the habitat is "essential to the conservation of the species" and special management of that habitat is possibly necessary.   Thus, defendant's interpretation of the ESA received no deference by the court and the court found defendant's application of the ESA unlawful, as Defendant and FWS have been repeatedly told by federal courts that the existence of other habitat protections does not relieve Defendant from designating critical habitat.  The court found that the FWS's Final Rule violated both the ESA and the APA in implementing its regulations.

Center for Biological Diversity v. Salazar Slip Copy, 2011 WL 6000497 (D.Ariz.)

Plaintiffs filed action against Interior and FWS to set aside FWS's finding that the desert bald eagle does not qualify as a distinct population segment (“DPS”) entitled to protection under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Plaintiff's motions for summary judgment was granted. The Court found that FWS' 12–month finding was based on the 2007 delisting rule, which failed to comport with the notice, comment, and consultation requirements of the ESA. The Court set aside the 12–month finding as an abuse of discretion.

Center For Biological Diversity v. Scarlett 452 F.Supp.2d 966 (N.D.Cal., 2006)

Plaintiffs Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign, Sierra Club, John Muir Project, Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of Wildlife move for an award of attorney fees and costs pursuant to § 11(g)(4) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), 16 USC § 1540(g)(4), in connection with their efforts to have the California spotted owl listed as endangered. The Court denied the Center's motion

for attorney fees because they failed to realize the goals of their lawsuit.

Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 450 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 2006)

The issue in this case is whether the Endangered Species Act requires the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to complete formal designation of critical habitat for an endangered fish species , the threespine stickleback ("stickleback"), a small, scaleless freshwater fish, as an endangered species in 1970 under the Endangered Species Act ("ESA"), listed over thirty-five years ago. In 1990, the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") awarded CEMEX, Inc., a contract to mine fifty-six million tons of sand and gravel from a location in Los Angeles County's Soledad Canyon. Although the mining would not take place within the stickleback's habitat, the project involves pumping water from the Santa Clara River and could cause portions of the river to run dry periodically. Parts of the Santa Clara River commonly dry out during the summer season, trapping stickleback in isolated pools. The Center for Biological Diversity ("CBD") filed suit in 2002, claiming that the Service violated the ESA by failing to complete the designation of critical habitat for the stickleback. In affirming the lower court's decision, the Ninth Circuit, held that it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Service to decide not to designate critical habitat for the stickleback. The Service was not required to ensure compliance with federal and state laws before issuing an ITS (incidental take statement) to CEMEX, and the district court did not abuse its discretion in striking extra-record exhibits offered to establish a new rationale for attacking the Service's decision.

Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife v. Kelly --- F.Supp.3d ----, 2015 WL 1293338 (D. Idaho 2015) Plaintiffs brought an action against the Defendants, challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”)'s November 28, 2012 Final Rule designating 30,010 acres in Idaho and Washington as critical habitat for the southern Selkirk Mountains population of woodland caribou under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Specifically, plaintiffs alleged (1) that the Final Rule's critical habitat designation was arbitrary and capricious because the Defendants failed to explain how the limited amount of critical habitat designated was sufficient to recover this population of caribou and (2) that Defendants failed to provide public notice and comment on the substantially revised critical habitat designation before issuing the Final Rule. Defendants and Intervenors argued that the Final Rule satisfied the requirements of the ESA and the Administrative Procedures Act ("APA").While the district court stated that the Final Rule's analysis seemed reasonably based on the best available science, it refused to make a conclusive determination on the arbitrary and capricious issue because procedural requirements necessitated a further public review and comment period. The court therefore found the error in this case was a procedural one resulting from the FWS failing to provide a period of public review and comment on the Final Rule's critical change in reasoning. The Court therefore remanded this matter to the FWS to cure the procedural error by affording the necessary public comment period and to consider anew the critical habitat designation in light of those comments.
Citizens for Better Forestry v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture 632 F.Supp.2d 968 (N.D.Cal.,2009)

Plaintiffs Citizens for Better Forestry brought an action against Defendant U.S. Department of Agriculture alleging failure to adhere to certain procedures required by NEPA and the ESA after Defendant promulgated regulations governing the development of management plans for forests within the National Forest System upon preparation of an allegedly insufficient Environmental Impact Statement and without preparation of a Biological Assessment or consultation with the Fisheries and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service. On parties’ cross motions, the United States District Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment, finding that Plaintiffs had standing, that Defendant did not comply with its requirements under the NEPA because the Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Defendant did not adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposed regulations, and that Defendant did not comply with its requirements under the ESA because Defendant did not prepare an adequate Biological Assessment.

Conservancy v. USFWS 677 F.3d 1073 (C.A.11 (Fla.))

In this case, many environmental advocacy groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate critical habitat for a species, the Florida panther, which was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1967. The petition was denied. Claiming the agency's action was arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act, the groups filed a citizens suit under the ESA in district court. At district, the group's complaints were dismissed and the groups subsequently lost on appeal.

Conservation Congress v. U.S. Forest Service 720 F.3d 1048 (9th Cir. 2013)

When two federal agencies authorized the Mudflow Vegetation Management Project, a conservation group sued the agencies for failing to adequately evaluate the project's effects on the Northern Spotted Owl's critical habitat, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Upon appeal of the lower court's decision, the Ninth Circuit concluded that the conservation group's challenge to the district court's denial of a preliminary injunction was premised on a misunderstanding of regulatory terms, on an unsupported reading of a duty to consider cumulative effects under the Endangered Species Act,and on selected portions of the record taken out of context. The district court's decision was therefore affirmed.

Conservation Force v. Salazar 715 F.Supp.2d 99 (D.D.C., 2010)

Plaintiffs to this suit — organizations and individuals that support sustainable hunting of the Canadian Wood Bison — alleged that the Secretary of the Department of Interior violated several provisions of the ESA in his treatment of that species. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that the Secretary failed to: (1) make a twelve-month finding as to the status of the Canadian Wood Bison upon petition and (2) process Plaintiffs’ applications to import bison hunting trophies. In granting the Defendant's motion to dismiss, the court found that Plaintiffs’ intent to sue letter did not specify to the Secretary that they intended to challenge his subsequent failure to issue a twelve-month finding. Since Plaintiffs gave the Secretary inadequate opportunity to review his actions and take corrective measures, the claim was dismissed. Plaintiffs — four individuals who each successfully hunted a Wood Bison in Canada — sought declaratory judgment against the Service under the ESA for failure to process their applications to import bison trophies. The court also held that the request for declaratory judgment was moot where Plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they ever intended to again apply for import permits.

Conservation Force v. Salazar 699 F.3d 538 (D.C. Cir. 2012)

After waiting nine years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to take action on a permit that would allow the Conservation Force and other individuals to import Canadian wood bison as hunting trophies, the Conservation Force brought a suit against the U.S. Department of Interior and the USFWS for violating the Endangered Species Act. However, once the complaint was filed, the USFWS denied the permit; after this action, the district court dismissed the Conservation Force’s case as moot. Plaintiffs then sought to recover attorney fees and costs, but were denied recovery by the district court. On appeal by Plaintiffs, the Court held that since the USFWS delay in processing the permit was not a non-discretionary, statutory duty, as required to recover attorney fees and costs, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision.

Conservation Force, Inc. v. Jewell 733 F.3d 1200 (D.C. Cir. 2013)

Appellants’ claims that the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s violated the Endangered Species Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and due process rights in regards to the markhor goat were rendered moot due to subsequent agency action. The claim that the USFWS had an ongoing pattern and practice of neglecting to process permits was also dismissed dues to issues of ripeness and standing. The case was remanded to district court with instructions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and was vacated in regards to the portions of the district court's order raised in this appeal.

Coos County Bd. of County Com'rs v. Norton Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1720496 (D.Or.)

Alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), plaintiffs sought to compel defendants to publish in the Federal Register proposed and final rules to remove the Washington, Oregon and California population of the marbled murrelet (a coastal bird) from the list of threatened species. Plaintiffs alleged that after defendants completed a five year review of the murrelet, defendants violated the ESA and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by failing to publish proposed and final rules "delisting" the murrelet. However, the court found that under the subsection upon which plaintiffs rely, the Secretary need publish a proposed regulation only after receiving a petition to add or remove species from the lists of threatened and endangered species and making certain findings. Because plaintiffs have not alleged or demonstrated that they filed a petition, they cannot establish that the Secretary has a duty to publish a proposed regulation. Thus, defendant's motion to dismiss was granted.

Coos County Board of County Com'rs v. Kempthorne 531 F.3d 792 (9th Cir., 2008) The issue here is whether FWS has an enforceable duty promptly to withdraw a threatened species from the protections of the ESA after a five-year agency review mandated by the Act found that the species does not fit into a protected population category. The species at issue here are murrelets-small, dove-sized birds that feed primarily on sea life and nest in coastal mature and old-growth forests. This Court concluded that Coos County has not alleged a failure to perform a nondiscretionary act or duty imposed by the ESA, whether premised on the petition process deadlines or on the agency's more general duty to act on its own determinations.
Defenders of Wildlife v. Hall 565 F.Supp.2d 1160 (D.Mont., 2008)

The case concerns the delisting of the wolf from the Endangered Species list that occurred in March of 2008. Plaintiffs-Defenders of Wildlife moved for a preliminary injunction, asking the Court to reinstate ESA protections for the wolf. Specifically, plaintiffs argue that even though the Fish & Wildlife Service’s (“Service”) original environmental impact statement (EIS) on wolf reintroduction conditioned the delisting on a finding of genetic exchange between populations, and there is no evidence that such exchange has occurred. Further, the Service approved Wyoming's 2007 wolf management plan even though the Wyoming plan still contains provisions that the Service previously found inadequate. On the whole, the court found that plaintiffs demonstrated a possibility of irreparable harm and granted plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction. As a result, the Endangered Species Act protections were reinstated for the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf pending final resolution of this matter on the merits.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Hall 807 F.Supp.2d 972 (D.Mont., 2011)

Several wildlife organizations filed suit to challenge the FWS's Final Rule delisting the gray wolf Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment.  The case was put on hold pending the outcome of several other legal battles regarding the wolf's status on the Endangered Species List, during which gray wolf protections were reinstated.  Then, after Congress passed the 2011 fiscal year budget which contained a provision requiring the FWS to delist the Northern Rocky Mountain DPS, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

Defenders of Wildlife v. Hall 565 F.Supp.2d 1160 (D. Mont. 2008)

Several wildlife organizations challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's designation and delisting of the Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act.  This decision involved a motion for preliminary injunction.   The court found that the plaintiffs had a substantial likelihood of success on the merits and the organizations and wolves would likely suffer irreparable harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction.  Thus, the motion for preliminary injunction was granted.

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