The salamander lawsuits continue

April 12, 2012 | By DAMIEN SCHIFF

The Center for Biological Diversity announced this week that it has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to produce recovery plans for three populations of California tiger salamanders protected under the Endangered Species Act.  I haven’t seen the complaint, but I’m curious as to CBD’s legal theory.  Although the ESA requires that a recovery plan be developed for each listed species, the Act does not provide a deadline by which such a plan must be completed.  Perhaps CBD relies on the general principle of administrative law that agency action unreasonably delayed is actionable.

In any event, this is just the lastest lawsuit dealing with the salamander.  Several years ago, Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit on behalf of a broad coalition of landowners to challenge the Service’s listing of the Central California population of salamander.  PLF argued that listing was unnecessary because, even conservatively, there are hundreds of thousands of salamanders in the wild, with much of the salamander’s habitat already protected.  Unfortunately, the district court ruled in favor of the Service and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in an unpublished decision.