September 22, 2011

News on the gnatcatcher

By News on the gnatcatcher

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

Here's a sampling of coverage on our lawsuit filed last week challenging the US Fish and Wildlife Service's failure to issue a timely initial finding on PLF's petition to remove the gnatcatcher from the list of threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.  And just to keep things fair and balanced, here's a not-so-nice commentary on our lawsuit.

The Service is quoted in one of these articles as saying that it has already begun work on responding to the petition but hasn't had time to complete that response given other "higher" priorities.  It's difficult to imagine what could be a higher priority in these economic times than determining whether the gnatcatcher needs ESA protection, given that the Service itself has estimated that the costs attributable to such protections could approach $1 billion through 2025.

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Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy & Reliability, et al. v. U.S. Department of Interior, et al.

The federal government has expanded its reach using the Endangered Species Act to cover spurious “subspecies.” The ESA does not define “subspecies” and the Fish and Wildlife Service has offered no definition of its own. Instead, it simply announces when it has determined a “subspecies” to exist and, relying on the subspecies’ smaller numbers relative to the entire species, imposes onerous regulations. The California gnatcatcher was listed as a threatened subspecies, but a 2013 study shows that, at a DNA level, the songbird is not meaningfully distinct from millions of gnatcatchers dwelling in Baja California. PLF represents a coalition of property owners, developers, and scientists in a challenge to the continued listing of this thriving species.

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