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WILDEARTH GUARDIANS vs. NATIONAL PARK SERVICE


In this case, the WildEarth Guardians brought a suit against the National Park Service for violating the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Rocky Mountain National Park Enabling Act (RMNP)'s ban on hunting. The district court and the appeals court, however, held that the NPS did not violate NEPA because the agency articulated reasons for excluding the natural wolf alternative from its Environmental Impact Statement. Additionally, since the National Park Service Organic Act (NPSOA)'s detrimental animal exception and the RMNP's dangerous animal exception apply to the prohibition on killing, capturing, or wounding—not the prohibition on hunting, the use of volunteers to cull the park’s elk population did not violate the RMNP or the NPSOA.  

Wildearth Guardians v. U.S. Department of the Interior In this case, Wildearth Guardians filed suit to challenge the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s designation of critical habitat for the Canada lynx. Wildearth argued that United States Fish and Wildlife Service wrongly excluded geographical areas in its final critical habitat designation. The areas that Wildearth argued should have been included in the designation were the Southern Rockies in Colorado, the Kettle Range of northeastern Washington, the state of Oregon, and certain National Forest lands in Montana and Idaho. Ultimately, the court reviewed Wildearth’s arguments and held that the Fish and Wildlife Service did wrongly exclude the Southern Rockies in Colorado and the National Forest lands in Montana and Idaho. With regard to the areas in Washington and Oregon, the court found that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not err in excluding in those areas from the critical habitat designation. The Fish and Wildlife Service used “primary constituent elements” (PCE) to determine which areas should be designated as a critical habitat for the Canada lynx. The court found that with respect to Colorado, there was a close call as to one of the of PCE’s and that the Service should have favored the lynx according to the standard set in the Endangered Species Act. Lastly, the court found that the Service also erred with respect to Montana and Idaho because it failed to comply with previous court orders to inspect the lands to determine whether or not the lands contained “physical and biological features essential to lynx recovery.” The court found that had the Service complied with these orders, it would have found that Montana and Idaho should have been included in the designation. The plaintiffs motions were granted in part and the matter was remanded to the Service for further action consistent with this order. The final rule remains in effect until the Service issues a new final rule on lynx critical habitat, at which time the September 2014 final rule will be superseded.
WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar


Plaintiff, WildEarth Guardians, brought this action seeking judicial review of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s final agency actions pertaining to the Utah prairie dog. Specifically, Plaintiffs aver that the FWS erred in denying (1) their petition to reclassify the Utah prairie dog as an endangered species under the ESA and (2) their petition to initiate rulemaking to repeal a regulation allowing for the limited extermination (i.e., take) of Utah prairie dogs. With respect to Plaintiff’s challenge as to reclassification, the court concluded that Plaintiff’s motion for Summary Judgment should be granted on two grounds. However, the court denied Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (and granted Defendant’s cross-motion) insofar as Plaintiff asserted that the FWS’ refusal to initiate rulemaking was arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with the ESA.

Wildearth Guardians v. Kempthorne



In its suit for declaratory and injunctive relief alleging that Defendant, the Secretary of the Interior, failed to comply with his mandatory duty under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) to make a preliminary 90-day finding on two ESA listing petitions brought by Plaintiff, Plaintiff moved for leave to amend its Complaint to include a new claim against Defendant stemming from Defendant’s denial of an additional petition submitted by Plaintiff requesting that a small subset of species which had been included in one of the petitions at issue in the original Complaint be given protection on an emergency basis.

 

The United States District Court, District of Columbia granted Plaintiff’s motion to amend the Complaint to clarify that only a total of 674 species are covered by the two non-emergency petitions, rather than the 681 as stated in the original Complaint, but denied Plaintiff’s motion for leave to supplement its Complaint with a new claim, finding that Defendant’s decision not to issue emergency listings is committed to agency discretion by law, and thus precludes judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act.

White v. U.S.


The Plaintiff-Appellants are citizens (show bird breeders, feed store owners, and game bird judges) who allege that the AWA amendments to § 2156 concerning animal fighting ventures have caused them various individual and collective injuries. The plaintiffs-appellants allege that these provisions are unconstitutional insofar as they constitute a bill of attainder; violate the principles of federalism contained in, inter alia, the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Amendments to the United States Constitution; and unduly impinge on the plaintiffs-appellants' First Amendment right of association, constitutional right to travel, and Fifth Amendment right to due process for deprivations of property and liberty. The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of Article III standing. The Sixth Circuit held that while economic injuries may constitute an injury-in-fact for the purposes of Article III standing, the plaintiffs' alleged economic injuries due to restrictions on cockfighting are not traceable only to the AWA. Additionally, because the AWA does not impose any penalties without a judicial trial, it is not a bill of attainder. The decision of the district court was affirmed.

Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink


Plaintiff environmental advocacy organization sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for revisions to nationwide grazing regulations for federal lands. Plaintiff argued that the 2006 Regulations violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The Court of Appeals found for the plaintiff, holding that BLM violated NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the proposed regulatory changes. BLM also violated the ESA by failing to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) before approving the revisions. The FLPMA claim was remanded.

Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink


Plaintiff environmental advocacy organization sued the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for revisions to nationwide grazing regulations for federal lands, arguing that the revisions violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA). The Court of Appeals held that BLM violated NEPA by failing to take a “hard look” at the environmental consequences of the proposed changes, and violated the ESA by failing to consult with Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) before approving the revisions.

Opinion Amended and Superseded on Denial of Rehearing en banc by:


Western Watersheds Project v. Kraayenbrink,

632 F.3d 472 (9th Cir., 2010).


Western Watersheds Project v. Hall


Plaintiff Western Watersheds Project filed the instant action challenging the “90-Day Finding” issued by the Defendants United States Fish and Wildlife Service that denied protection of the Interior Mountain Quail as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The Service determined that the Petition had failed to provide information demonstrating that the Interior Mountain Quail population is discrete under the ESA. The District Court stated that, in order to qualify as a DPS, a population must “be both discrete and significant.” The court found that the Service's conclusion appropriately determined that this discreteness standard was not met and it provided a rational basis for concluding the Petition had failed to provide evidence of a marked separation between the populations of the same taxon.

Western Watersheds Project v. Dyer


The plaintiff, Western Watersheds Project (WWP), is an environmental group that brought this lawsuit to ban livestock grazing in certain areas of the Jarbidge Field Office (1.4 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho and northern Nevada). WWP alleges that continued grazing destroys what little habitat remains for imperiled species like the sage grouse, pygmy rabbit, and slickspot peppergrass (deemed “sensitive species” by the BLM).  After ten days of evidentiary hearings, the court found that three sensitive species in the JFO are in serious decline and that livestock grazing is an important factor in that decline. However, the court found that a ban on grazing was not required by law at this point since the Court was "confident" in the BLM's ability to modify the 2009 season in accordance with the Court's interpretation of the existing RMP.

Weigel v. Maryland

Following the Tracey v. Solesky opinion, a nonprofit, nonstock cooperative housing corporation issued a rule that banned pit bulls on its premises.  Members and leaseholders who owned dogs believed to be pit bulls sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the corporation and the state of Maryland in an amended complaint. Although the district court found the plaintiffs had adequately demonstrated standing and ripeness in their claims, the court also found that some of the leaseholders and members' charges were barred by 11th Amendment immunity and by absolute judicial immunity. Additionally, the district court found that the leaseholders and members' amended complaint failed to plead plausible void-for-vagueness, substantive due process and takings claims. The district court, therefore, granted the state's motion to dismiss and held all other motions pending before the court to be denied as moot.

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