Tag: Lawsuit

New Lawsuit Aims To Ensure That The USFWS Provide Protection For The Last 300 Wolverines That Remain In The Contiguous United States

WildEarth Guardians, and a coalition of wildlife advocates, filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s decision to deny protections for imperiled wolverines under the Endangered Species Act. This is the second time that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prioritized politics over science for wolverines, which number only an estimated 300 in the contiguous United States.

The groups in the lawsuit defeated the Service in court in 2016, after the Service abruptly withdrew its proposed rule to list the wolverine population in the lower 48 states as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. The court ordered the agency back to the drawing board with a directive to apply the best science in evaluating the protection needed for the wolverine. Four years later, the Service returned with the same decision to deny wolverine protective status, despite no new scientific support for such a determination.

The recent complaint aims to ensure the Service utilizes the best available science when making listing decisions, and to provide wolverines the protective status they desperately need and deserve.

“In the face of a clear biodiversity crisis and mass extinction event, imperiled species need swift and coordinated federal government protection now more than ever,” said Lindsay Larris, wildlife program director for WildEarth Guardians, in a statement. “Wolverines, like so many other persecuted carnivores, remain imperiled according to clear scientific evidence. Relying upon piecemeal management by state wildlife agencies for wolverine survival, because of political pressure, is insufficient for recovery and contrary to both science and the law.”

In April 2016, a federal judge sided with conservation groups, agreeing that the Service’s August 2014 decision to not list wolverines as threatened was “arbitrary and capricious” and contrary to scientific literature. In a scathing opinion, the court clearly stated that “no greater level of certainty is needed to see the writing on the wall for this species standing squarely in the path of global climate change. It has taken us twenty years to get to this point. It is the court’s view that if there is one thing required of the Service under the ESA, it is to take action at the earliest possible, defensible point in time to protect against the loss of biodiversity within our reach as a nation. For the wolverine, that time is now.” 

“This is yet another chapter in this administration’s war on science,” said Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, and legal counsel for the coalition. “Public records reveal that the Service decided not to protect wolverines from day one, and then worked backwards to figure out how to make the decision stick. It’s really unfortunate.”

Before its decisions to deny wolverines endangered species protections, the Service identified climate change, in conjunction with small population size, as the primary threat to the species’ existence in the contiguous United States.

The wolverine relies on snow year-round. With its large paws, it can travel easily over snow. Snow also works as a “freezer” that permits the wolverine to store and scavenge food. One study found that 98% of all wolverine dens are in places with persistent snowpack.

Published, peer-reviewed research, Society for Conservation Biologyshows that the majority of experts who reviewed the decision, and the Service’s own biologists all verified this finding.

“This is something we were really hoping to avoid after the court’s 2016 decision,” said Bishop. “I was cautiously optimistic that the Service would get it right this time and we would be focusing our time and energy on developing a conservation strategy, recovery plan, critical habitat, and possibly reintroduction efforts for wolverines. Instead, we’re back in court challenging an agency that continues to put politics over science.”

The coalition filing the lawsuit includes: WildEarth Guardians, Friends of the Bitterroot, Friends of the Wild Swan, Swan View Coalition, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Cottonwood Environmental Law Center, George Wuerthner, Footloose Montana, Native Ecosystems Council, Wildlands Network, Helena Hunters and Anglers Association. The coalition is represented by the Western Environmental Law Center.

The post New Lawsuit Aims To Ensure That The USFWS Provide Protection For The Last 300 Wolverines That Remain In The Contiguous United States appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

Breaking! Lawsuit Launched After U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Expands Hunting On 2.3 Million Acres Of Land That Jeopardizes Endangered Wildlife

The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the agency’s new rule expanding hunting and fishing on 2.3 million acres, in 147 wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries across the United States. The rule authorizes damaging practices like the use of lead ammunition and killing of ecologically important top predators such as mountain lions.

The rule opens hunting on numerous refuges previously reserved for protecting endangered species or other wildlife. Today’s notice asserts that the agency has violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to analyze and mitigate harmful impacts from the hunting expansion on endangered wildlife, such as: grizzly bears, ocelots, and whooping cranes.

“We’re going to court to ensure that our nation’s wildlife refuges can actually provide refuges for wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s carnivore conservation director, in a statement. “We’ve never before seen such a massive expansion of bad hunting practices on these public lands. There’s no sound reason for this, and the Fish and Wildlife Service has either ignored or downplayed the many risks that hunting poses to endangered wildlife.”

The expansion will allow hunters to use lead ammunition, which was prohibited at the end of the Obama administration but then reinstated by former Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. For example, endangered whooping cranes rely on numerous refuges in the Midwest, like the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin, where the Fish and Wildlife Service has authorized use of lead ammunition but failed to consider the risk of lead toxicity on the birds.

Endangered species like grizzly bears and ocelots can also be poisoned by scavenging on lead-contaminated carcasses. And grizzly bears are now at risk from being killed in mistaken-identity or self-defense shootings by hunters, such as those targeting black bears in grizzly bear territory in Swan River National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. Shy ocelots living on Texas’s Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge may also be disturbed by hunters’ gunshots and risk potential vehicle strikes.

“This rule is just another handout to trophy hunters at the expense of the rest of us who recognize the importance of the national wildlife refuge system to the vulnerable wildlife the refuges were created to protect,” said Adkins. “Rare and beautiful animals like grizzly bears and ocelots now face increased risks of poaching, disturbance, ingestion of toxic lead and more. It’s tragic, and I’m hoping the court will set things right.”

The Center’s supporters submitted more than 30,000 letters opposing the rule when it was proposed this spring. Despite this, the agency finalized the rule, which is now in effect.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has 60 days to respond to last week’s notice. If it does not, the conservation group can then sue under the Endangered Species Act.

The post Breaking! Lawsuit Launched After U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Expands Hunting On 2.3 Million Acres Of Land That Jeopardizes Endangered Wildlife appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

Breaking! A Lawsuit Filed Today Aims To Save An Estimated 300 Leopards Each Year From Being Imported Into The United States By Hunters As So-Called “Trophies”

Conservation and animal protection organizations filed a lawsuit today challenging decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that authorize leopard trophy hunting imports from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia into the United States.

The United States is a major global importer of leopard “trophies.” On average, the country imports nearly 300 leopard “trophies,” which is 52% of all leopard trophies in trade each year. During the most recent five-year period for which data is available, the United States imported 1,037 leopard trophies from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Zambia alone.

“Federal officials are dishing out leopard import permits right and left despite lacking the data to know how trophy hunting harms this highly imperiled species,” Tanya Sanerib, International Legal Director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Regulations clearly require our government not to OK imports without adequate info about these beautiful big cats and all the ways humans are harming them.”

Leopards are vulnerable to extinction. Scientists believe that African leopard populations are plummeting due to habitat loss, prey depletion, persecution by people, poaching for the illegal skin trade, and unsustainable trophy hunting. The actual rate of leopard decline remains largely unknown, and most nations lack population estimates.

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),the leopard trade is permissible only under exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, bowing to politics and diplomatic negotiations, parties to the international treaty recently sustained unjustifiably high quotas or caps on the number of leopards that can be traded annually as so-called “trophies.”

The lawsuit challenges the Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to meet this obligation by authorizing U.S. trophy hunters to import leopard trophies from Africa. The hunters rely on these decisions when traveling to Africa to hunt this beautiful species. Due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 risks, fewer hunters are traveling to Africa, meaning the leopards covered by the challenged import authorizations are likely still alive and could still be saved from import.

Today, the organizations also gave the Fish and Wildlife Service notice of their intent to sue over the agency’s failure to make a 12-month finding on their 2016 petition to list all leopards as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

Most leopard populations in Africa are currently listed as “threatened” and are not given the law’s full range of protections. Furthermore, an endangered listing would increase transparency and give the public the ability to comment on trophy import applications. That petition also requested that the agency take immediate action to apply a stricter standard to the import of leopards as “trophies.”

WAN and Peace 4 Animals believe that leopards should be protected without question under the Endangered Species Act, and all trophy hunting imports into the United States should be banned indefinitely,” stated the organizations. “If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and CITIES do not step up to help this imperiled species, we might lose them to extinction in the near future.”

The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States, and a South Africa-based photographic safari operator filed the lawsuit.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post Breaking! A Lawsuit Filed Today Aims To Save An Estimated 300 Leopards Each Year From Being Imported Into The United States By Hunters As So-Called “Trophies” appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

Tragically, Only 9 Critically Endangered Red Wolves Remain In The Wild; A New Lawsuit Is Pushing For A Recovery Plan To Save Them

Photo by B. Bartel, USFWS

According to a legal agreement reached as a result of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service must update its plan for saving critically endangered red wolves in the next two and a half years. Red wolves, which are native to the southeastern United States, have sadly dwindled to only nine known individuals in the wild, living in the eastern part of North Carolina.

“With only nine wolves known to remain in the wild, the red wolf desperately needed this good news,” Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director at the Center, said in a statement. “The science shows that the red wolf can be saved, and I am hopeful that a new recovery plan will put the species back on the road to recovery.”

The agreement, approved on October 2nd by a North Carolina federal court, requires the Fish and Wildlife Service to complete a final revised recovery plan for red wolves by February 28, 2023.

This victory is the result of the Center’s 2019 lawsuit, which challenged the Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to revise the outdated recovery plan from 1990. The Center filed its suit after the Service failed to follow through on its commitment to update the decades-old recovery plan by the end of 2018.

The Endangered Species Act requires that the agency prepare plans that serve as roadmaps to species recovery, identifying measures needed to ensure conservation and survival, such as reintroductions.

Last year, the Center released a report identifying five potential reintroduction sites that together could support nearly 500 breeding pairs of red wolves. All the sites are on public lands in: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. 

The Fish and Wildlife Service has not taken steps to reintroduce red wolves elsewhere and has stopped taking action, such as widespread sterilization of coyotes to prevent hybrid animals from harming the gene pool which is necessary to conserve the remaining wild population.

“Time is running out to save red wolves and government foot-dragging has only made the problem worse,” continued Adkins. “It’s frustrating that we’ve had to sue time and again to get action. Hopefully this win finally gets these vulnerable wolves the help they need.”

The Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to release a draft revised red wolf recovery plan next year. The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft plan.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post Tragically, Only 9 Critically Endangered Red Wolves Remain In The Wild; A New Lawsuit Is Pushing For A Recovery Plan To Save Them appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

Massive Lawsuit Challenges U.S. Regulations That Keep The Public In The Dark About Serious Harm Caused By Factory Farming & Slaughterhouses

A lawsuit was filed against the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) for new regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that will shield federally-funded factory farms — known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) — and slaughterhouses from environmental review. The new regulations also limit the ability of the public to know about and challenge harm caused by these facilities.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations generate massive amounts of waste, contaminating air, drinking water, and surface waters, and impact the health of both people and animals; all while farmed animals are cruelly confined to small crates sometimes where they can barely stand or even turn around.

One way the federal government props up this cruel industry is by providing millions of dollars annually in financial assistance to new and expanding CAFOs and slaughterhouses.

Under previous NEPA regulations, federal agencies were required to assess and make public the environmental impact of a new or expanding factory farm or slaughterhouse before any federal funding was approved.

CEQ’s new rule allows the government to continue supporting the CAFO industry without accounting for any of the environmental impacts, all the while keeping the public in the dark.

“Factory farms and slaughterhouses already operate with little accountability or transparency for the harm they cause to animals and nearby communities,” Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director, Stephen Wells, said in a statement. “The NEPA environmental review provides the public with information about the harm these facilities cause and a chance to speak up before the government helps build and expand factory farms and slaughterhouses in their communities.”

“Often, the CAFO industry shows up in rural areas without any notice or consideration of how it will impact people’s health or the local environment, injuring residents without any chance for them to be heard or a clear remedy,” stated Kelly Hunter Foster, Waterkeeper Alliance’s Senior Attorney. “NEPA requires that people be considered stakeholders when major projects are proposed in their communities. CEQ’s new regulations attempt to rewrite these clear statutory requirements to shield a major polluting industry from environmental review.”

Without the transparency provided by NEPA’s environmental review, communities may not even be aware of the construction of slaughterhouses and new factory farms, or the expansion of existing ones, until it is far too late.

CEQ’s new rule specifically exempts Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Small Business Administration (SBA) loan guarantees to CAFOs from NEPA review entirely, leaving federal agencies with the ability to guarantee loans for CAFOs that are unable to receive financing anywhere else without having to conduct any environmental review first.

Additional provisions in CEQ’s rule could further limit or prevent environmental review of government support for the factory farming industry, including language that could force federal agencies to overlook the climate change impacts of factory farming.

The Council on Environmental Quality’s new rule will also make it more difficult for members of the public to bring legal challenges when federal agencies fail to adequately review the environmental impacts of the actions, further hobbling communities’ ability to protect themselves.

The coalition that filed the lawsuit includes: Animal Legal Defense Fund, Waterkeeper Alliance, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, and Association of Irritated Residents.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post Massive Lawsuit Challenges U.S. Regulations That Keep The Public In The Dark About Serious Harm Caused By Factory Farming & Slaughterhouses appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

New Lawsuit Challenges Approval Of Alaska LNG Project & Its 807-Mile Pipeline That Will Negatively Impact Climate Change & Endangered Species

Conservation groups sued the federal government yesterday for approving the Alaska LNG Project, an integrated pipeline project, which would export U.S. liquefied natural gas to Asia. The lawsuit challenges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s May 21st approval of the project and the subsequent refusal to grant a June 23rd request for a rehearing of the case.

The groups argue the federal energy commission failed to analyze the project’s impacts on Alaska lands and waters, climate change, and endangered species, including polar bears, Cook Inlet beluga whales, and North Pacific right whales. This is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The Alaska LNG Project includes a 807-mile pipeline, a facility to liquefy Arctic gas, and the shipping of about 20 million metric tons of the condensed fuel abroad every year.

Yesterday, The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club urged the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review its approval by the commission. Both groups are represented by Earthjustice.

“Alaska LNG would worsen climate change and the extinction crisis to export American fossil fuel to Asia,” said Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center, in a statement. “The feds ignored those serious threats as they rubber-stamped this risky project. Alaska’s climate is already changing rapidly, and this massive fossil fuel project would contribute to that dangerous warming.”

The project’s pipeline would have a daily maximum capacity of 3.9 billion cubic feet of gas. Burning that amount of gas could result in more than 90 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually. That is almost the same global warming impact as building 21 coal-fired power plants.

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) cannot just ignore the destructive impact this fracked gas export project would have on vulnerable wildlife and our climate,” stated Sierra Club senior attorney Nathan Matthews. “This facility would contribute to the climate crisis at a time when we can least afford it, and it should never have been approved.”

The pipeline would connect drilling operations on the North Slope to an export terminal on Cook Inlet and bring tanker ships through the habitat of endangered North Pacific right whales and Cook Inlet beluga whales. FERC estimates the project would increase large vessel traffic in the Inlet by nearly 75%.

“The project’s estimated damage to Alaska wetlands alone is among the most extensive I’ve seen, over 8,000 acres permanently destroyed, which is in the same ballpark as a full build-out of the Pebble Mine,” shared Erin Whalen, an attorney with Earthjustice. “All that destruction would buy is further commitment to a climate our grandchildren may not survive. The law requires the commission to take a hard look at these impacts.”

Alaska is currently warming at twice the global rate, and the state’s infrastructure is being compromised by thawing permafrost and related subsidence. The project, with a price tag of nearly $40 billion, would also involve the construction and operation of a gas-treatment plant and associated 60-mile pipeline on the North Slope.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post New Lawsuit Challenges Approval Of Alaska LNG Project & Its 807-Mile Pipeline That Will Negatively Impact Climate Change & Endangered Species appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

New Lawsuit Aims To Stop Hunters From Killing Bears & Their Cubs & Wolves & Their Pups During Denning Season In Alaska’s National Preserves

A lawsuit filed yesterday in Federal District Court in Alaska charges the United States Interior Department and National Park Service (NPS) with violating multiple laws when adopting a rule that would open up national preserves in Alaska to hunting practices like baiting bears and killing wolves during the denning season.

“Allowing bear cubs to be killed with their mothers and wolf pups to be targeted in their dens is unjustifiably cruel,” said Andrea Feniger, Director of Sierra Club’s Alaska Chapter. “It is also detrimentally short-sighted. The science is clear that we are in the midst of a climate and extinction crisis. There’s an urgent need to manage these lands to protect wildlife.”

With the new rule, NPS reverses its longstanding position that Alaska may not implement sport hunting regulations on national preserves that are designed to decimate predators in order to increase the numbers of moose and caribou so that people can sadly continue to hunt them.

“It is outrageous to target ecologically important animals like wolves and bears so that hunters might have more moose and caribou to kill,” Collette Adkins, Carnivore Conservation Director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Not only are destructive predator control practices harmful and unsporting, they’re illegal when done on federal public lands set aside to protect biodiversity.”

Unfathomably, the agency’s new rule illegally clears the way for the state to allow activities like bear baiting and killing of wolves during denning season in all national preserves in Alaska.

The lawsuit charges the agencies with violating the National Park Service’s Organic Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The State of Alaska generally manages so-called “sport hunting” on federal lands, but that management discretion must stay within the bounds of federal mandates.

“Techniques such as killing bear sows with cubs at den sites or “harvesting” brown bears over bait are clearly inappropriate within units of the National Park System,” said Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “The National Park Service is mandated to conserve wildlife, not exploit it through these objectionable hunting practices.”

Law firm Trustees for Alaska filed the lawsuit on behalf of 13 clients: Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Wilderness League, Alaskans FOR Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Copper Country Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Denali Citizens Council, the Humane Society of the United States, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Sierra Club, and Wilderness Watch.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

The post New Lawsuit Aims To Stop Hunters From Killing Bears & Their Cubs & Wolves & Their Pups During Denning Season In Alaska’s National Preserves appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link

Victory! Court Upholds San Francisco Fur Ban As Constitutional In Response To A Lawsuit By The International Fur Trade Federation

Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a constitutional challenge to San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur products. The International Fur Trade Federation filed its lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco in January 2020. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States intervened in the lawsuit, to defend the ordinance’s constitutionality and preserve San Francisco’s right to ban fur.

The fur ban was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2019, while allowing retailers until the end of last year to sell off existing inventory.

San Francisco’s ban was built on the successes of West Hollywood and Berkeley passing similar legislation, and paved the way for Los Angeles and, finally, the state of California, to pass similar humane legislation in 2019.

Given the wide array of faux fur products and similar alternatives available to the fashion industry, the San Francisco ordinance was aimed at preventing animal cruelty and environmental impacts associated with fur production by banning fur sales in the City.

More than a year after the ordinance took effect, the International Fur Trade Federation responded by filing a lawsuit which sought to strike it down as unconstitutional. The court disagreed, and issued a decision making clear that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause does not preclude San Francisco from ridding its marketplace of cruel fur products.

“The challenge to San Francisco’s ban was a test from the opposition to the constitutionality against all fur bans, as this legislation gains momentum,” Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director Stephen Wells, said in a statement. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund will continue to defend fur bans, and other animal protection legislation, as voters fight back against systematically cruel industries that profit from the exploitation of animals.”

Animal fur — from animals like foxes, minks, raccoon dogs, and many others — is produced under inhumane conditions to maintain the “integrity” of the animal’s skin, also known as the pelt. Animals are kept in small, filthy cages, that are typically stacked on top of one another, with waste falling onto the occupant below, before being suffocated, electrocuted, or gassed to death. Animals are commonly skinned alive with no painkillers while fully conscious.

HELP US END THE FUR TRADE! 

Include your name on the growing list of compassionate consumers that have gone fur-free and are urging companies that still sell fur to stop by signing HERE!

The post Victory! Court Upholds San Francisco Fur Ban As Constitutional In Response To A Lawsuit By The International Fur Trade Federation appeared first on World Animal News.

Source link