November 23, 2016

Is the government excused from following its own laws?

By Wen Fa Attorney

The answer is no.

The California Endangered Species Act requires the Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct status reviews of species listed as threatened or endangered every five years. PLF sued to enforce the Act, after the Department failed to conduct mandatory reviews for 233 species.

The Department now wants to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that no one is harmed by its failure to follow California law. Today PLF filed its opposition.

Just who is harmed by the Department’s failure to follow California law? The public. The state legislature, in enacting the Act, recognized the immense value that plants and animals bring to California residents. The Act aims to restore threatened and endangered species to the point at which the Act’s protections are no longer needed. That purpose cannot be furthered without knowledge of the current status of California’s wildlife. The status reviews provide that knowledge.

In all, the Department’s failure to conduct mandatory status reviews means that the State might be wasting millions of dollars in protecting species that are actually thriving (at the expense of those that are endangered). And it means that State might be ignoring certain species that need more protection under the Act. We simply do not know without the status reviews. But we must know to protect California’s wildlife.

 

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