On December 7, 2015, with much self-congratulatory horn-tooting, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would issuing a final rule removing the Modoc sucker from the list of threatened and endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The Service’s press release describes the action as a success for the Service’s program of species recovery. One would not even guess, from reading what the Service says about it, that the only reason the Service did this was years of litigation by Pacific Legal Foundation.
PLF is pleased that this long overdue action is finally to be taken, and congratulates its client, the California Cattlemen’s Association, for its dogged pursuit of this delisting. But the real story is rather more tawdry than the Service’s victory lap would indicate. You can read the whole story here, but the short version is that it is likely that this species should not have been listed in the first place, and then should and would have been delisted years ago but for bureaucratic inertia. In a final show of bureaucratic flourish, the delisting would have been finalized months ago if the Service had not forgotten to publish a notice in a local newspaper.
But one way or another, it is fitting to give credit where credit is due, and PLF is proud to have forced the Service to finally make the right decision.