Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fish and Wildlife Service Issues Positive 90-Day Finding On Petition To List Captive Chimpanzees As Endangered

The Fish and Wildlife Service today issued a press release announcing that tomorrow it will issue a formal positive "90-day finding" on a petition to treat captive chimpanzees as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, like their wild counterparts. The petition was submitted in 2010 by our firm on behalf of a broad coalition of animal protection and conservation groups, the Jane Goodall Institute, and the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums. The agency will allow 60-days for comment on the petition, which, if ultimately granted, should eliminate the use of chimpanzees for entertainment, commercial advertisements, and unnecessary laboratory research.

For a copy of the agency's press release - click here:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Comments Filed Urging FWS to Reject Proposed Changes to Wind Guidelines

Last week, we filed comments on behalf of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Wildlife Advocacy Project, on the recent changes to the Revised Draft Voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines, proposed by the subcommittees of the Wind Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee. Previously we had submitted comments on the original wind guidelines released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in February 2011 as well as the second draft of the guidelines released in July 2011. In this third round of comments, we urged FWS to reject those changes recommended by the subcommittees that were adverse to wildlife interests, and to allow the public to submit comments on any such changes that it may consider adopting. We explained that the proposed changes are more likely to harm rather than help wildlife. For example, FWS would be placed in a difficult position with respect to enforcement action against wind energy project developers because the proposed changes would allow developers to merely document FWS recommendations and their own reasons for “disagreeing” with the FWS to show compliance with the guidelines. All in all, the proposed changes would give wind developers enough scope to come up with their own interpretations of the guidelines, and pressure FWS biologists that the project will proceed if FWS did not meet the arbitrary 30-60 day review period.
More information on the subcommittees’ recommendations is available here:

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Opposition Brief Filed Seeking to Restore Protections to Sensitive Ecological Areas of Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida

Earlier this week, we filed an opposition on behalf of several conservation organizations and individuals, arguing that the National Park Service (“NPS”) has not provided adequate justification for its 2007 decision to open off-road vehicle trails in particularly sensitive areas of Big Cypress National Preserve. The decision has resulted in extensive and permanent damage to the Preserve’s soils, vegetation, water resources, and wildlife. Plaintiffs are challenging the decision under a Settlement Agreement entered into in a previous lawsuit against NPS, as well as several environmental laws including the NPS Organic Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Comments Filed on Revised Wind Guidelines Urging FWS to Comply with FACA

Last week, we submitted comments on behalf of Friends of Blackwater Canyon, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Animal Welfare Institute, and the Wildlife Advocacy Project, on the Revised Draft Voluntary Land-Based Wind Energy Guidelines prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). In May 2011 we had submitted detailed comments on the previous draft of the wind guidelines; however in developing the revised guidelines, FWS has largely ignored and entirely failed to respond to public comments. Our comments highlight the fact that FWS has apparently weakened the guidelines in light of pressure from the industry-dominated Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee - for example, the revised guidelines now require FWS to review wind energy project proposals within a truncated 60 day period. Further, our comments emphasize that the manner in which FWS is working with the Committee is a flagrant violation of the public access mandate of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (“FACA”) because while it is evident that the Committee has been working with FWS in developing the guidelines, the public has not been provided with complete and accurate information regarding the same. More information on the guidelines can be found here:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BLM Halts Plan to Castrate Wild Stallions in Wyoming

Responding to our motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, BLM today informed Judge Amy Berman Jackson that the agency had decided to rescind its plan to castrate and return stallions that it rounds up from the Little Colorado and White Mountain herd management areas in Wyoming. The plan – opposed by plaintiffs American Wild Horse Preservation Coalition, Western Watersheds Project, and three individuals – would have set a dangerous precedent on public lands. In returning geldings to the range, BLM would have undermined the will of Congress under the Wild Free Roaming Horses and Burros Act to preserve and protect these horses as “wild,” “freeroaming” “components of the public land,” and it would have also violated the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to consider any of the various devastating environmental impacts of this action. Our brief in support of the motion is here. Fifty-four members of Congress also today sent a letter to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar decrying the plan to geld horses as “inhumane” and contrary to law.