Endangered Species Law and Policy

Analyzing Legal and Policy Developments Affecting Endangered Species Throughout the United States

On March 15, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) issued a proposed rule to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.  As we reported here, the Service announced its intention to issue the proposed rule earlier this month.  According to the Service, the species’ population has rebounded considerably since it was originally listed in 1978, when the population estimate was approximately 1,000 individuals.  Now, the…
Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, David Bernhardt, recently announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) will publish a proposed rule removing federal protections under the Endangered Species Act for the endangered gray wolf (Canis lupus).  Secretary Bernhardt announced the plan at the 84th North American Wildlife & Natural Resources Conference in Denver, Colorado. The gray wolf was originally listed as endangered in March 1978 throughout the contiguous United States,…
On February 26, 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to delist the Borax Lake chub (Gila boraxobius), a small fish that currently resides primarily in a single Oregon lake.  Currently listed as an endangered species, the proposed rule states that the best available scientific and commercial information “indicates that the threats to the Borax Lake chub have been eliminated or reduced to the point where the species no longer meets the definition of…
On February 6, 2019, a federal judge upheld U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) 90-day finding that a petition to delist the endangered golden-cheeked warbler (Petition) did not present substantial information that delisting the warbler may be warranted (Negative 90-day Finding). In 2015,  various groups and individuals filed the Petition, which, among other things, alleged that because a 2015 study indicated that the golden-cheeked warbler and its habitat were far more abundant than the Service…
In an article published online this week in BioScience, the American Institute of Biological Sciences’ scholarly journal, Drs. Dennis Murphy and Paul Weiland contribute to the literature on independent scientific review, focusing on the review of federal agency determinations under the Endangered Species Act. They describe the types of decisions that can benefit from independent scientific review. They also describe past shortcomings in undertaking such reviews, relying on specific examples from past reviews. Identification of…
Nossaman Environment & Land Use Partner Brooke Wahlberg recently participated in a panel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s 2019 Policy Orientation entitled “Frogs or Freedom: Are New Limitations Coming for the Endangered Species Act?”  Ms. Wahlberg’s segment addressed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Weyerhaeuser v. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and how the case affects impacts on critical habitat.  See below for a brief clip from her presentation.  The full video of the entire…
On January 31, 2019, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced plans to amend up to 182 Endangered Species Act (ESA) recovery plans, which potentially cover over 305 animal and plant species, over the next year. These amendments will revise each recovery plan to include “quantitative recovery criteria” as part of the Department of the Interior’s Agency Priority Performance Goals. USFWS kicked off this 12-month push by releasing a notice of availability of 26…
On January 28, 2019, the Superior Court for San Diego County upheld the California Fish and Game Commission’s (“Commission”) 2015 decision to list the gray wolf (canis lupus) under the California Endangered Species Act (“CESA”). (Cal. Cattlemen’s Assn. v. Cal. Fish & Game Com. (Super. Ct. San Diego County, 2019, No. 37-2017-00003866-CU-MC-CTL).) CESA defines an “endangered species” as “a native species or subspecies of bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile or plant which is in serious…
As we previously reported, more than 150 organizations have requested that the Department of the Interior (DOI) extend the public comment period associated with DOI’s proposed changes to how it will process requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (Proposed Regulations) by no less than 120 days due, in part, to the partial government shutdown.  Without referencing or responding to these multiple requests, DOI announced that it will extend the comment…
The longest partial government shutdown in United States history¬†is taking its toll on Endangered Species Act (ESA) policy initiatives championed by the Trump Administration, and is making ESA compliance and project completion significantly more difficult for a wide spectrum of industries. In July 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Marine Fisheries Service published proposed changes to ESA implementing regulations relating to species listings, de-listings, critical habitat designations, and consultations under…