March 14, 2014

PLF files suit over caribou petition, the sequel

By Jonathan Wood Attorney

ESA campaign infographicPLF attorneys, once again, filed a federal lawsuit in Idaho today because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to properly respond to a petition that asks the agency to remove the Southern Selkirk Mountain Caribou Population from the endangered species list. The Endangered Species Act requires the Service to respond to petitions in two stages: first, it has to make an initial decision within 90 days whether the petition presents sufficient reason to consider changing the species states; and second, a decision within 12 months whether to change the species status. The caribou case highlights the many hurdles citizens face when trying to get agencies to follow the law, the subject of this recent PLF infographic.

In May 2012, PLF submitted a petition on behalf of Bonner County and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association arguing that a single population of a species cannot, itself, be listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Service didn’t make it’s 90-day finding. So, after 6 months, PLF sued to challenge its failure to follow the law. Finally, in December 2012, the Service issued a 90-day finding, concluding that the petition deserved to precede to the second step.

It’s been nearly two years since the petition was originally filed and the Service has never made its final 12-month decision. So, we’re suing again to challenge the Service’s repeated failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act. The Service’s unlawful listing of this population of the Caribou significantly interferes with outdoor recreation, and the businesses that rely upon it. The people impacted by this illegal regulation deserve to finally have an answer on their petition.

learn more about

Bonner County v. Zinke

For decades, citizens of Bonner County, Idaho and members of the Idaho State Snowmobile Association have endured profound negative effects from the federal government’s listing of the Southern Selkirk Mountain caribou population. The local economy depends heavily on winter recreational activities that are significantly limited by trail closures related to the caribou. Over three years ago, the government acknowledged the caribou was not endangered and should never have been listed in the first place. And then it did…. nothing. The Endangered Species Act requires action within certain deadlines to delist species, and the government ignored all of them. PLF represents the residents of Bonner County and the snowmobilers in a lawsuit to force the government to follow the law and delist the caribou.

Read more

What to read next