Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Challenge To USDA’s Decision To Renew License to Miami Seaquarium Where Orca Named Lolita Is Kept in Substandard Conditions

On behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Orca Network, and several individuals, we filed a case last week in the federal district court for Northern California challenging the USDA’s most recent decision to allow the Miami Seaquarium to renew its Animal Welfare license although it keeps the Orca named Lolita in conditions that violate the AWA – including a tank that is far below the agency’s own minimum standard set in 1978, without shelter from the intense Miami sun, and without any companions of her own species.  Lolita was captured from the wild in the 1970s off the coast of Washington State and is a member of the L-pod of the Southern Resident Killer Whales –  listed as an “endangered” species in 2005.  The suit seeks to have the Seaquarium’s AWA license set aside as unlawful, as a first step to having Lolita transferred to a more humane setting, and hopefully reintroduced into the wild.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lawsuit Filed To Restore Protections To Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl

This week, we filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, which seeks to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for the pygmy owl – a species that was previously listed as endangered under the Act from 1997 to 2006.  In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found, in response to a petition by the conservation groups, that the pygmy owl is in fact threatened in its Sonoran Desert region but nevertheless declined to afford any protections to the species based on the agency’s conclusion that this portion of the range is not vital to the overall survival of the species – a far more restrictive interpretation of the agency’s statutory listing authority than the Service has previously employed.  This new interpretation stems from a draft policy that the Service released for public comment several months after the pygmy owl decision, that was strenuously opposed by conservation groups and the scientific community, and that the Service has yet to finalize. The complaint can be found here and the press release can be found here.