Wednesday, June 25, 2014

MGC Honored by Madrone Audubon Society

The Madrone Audubon Society, based in Santa Rosa, California, has given Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal, along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, an award for “Special Recognition” in connection with the firm’s work on  a lawsuit against the Federal Highway Administration and the California Department of Transportation regarding expansion of a bridge that is home to an important Cliff swallow colony.  As explained by Madrone Audubon in issuing the award, the federal case resulted in a settlement agreement that “achieved new standards of exclusion and protection for migratory birds, requirement for close monitoring during construction, and funding for the public and educational outreach.”  Madrone Audubon also said that it is “deeply grateful for the skilled legal teams for guiding us through a challenging process to an outcome with the potential for new exclusionary methods during bridge construction in California which will afford higher levels of protection for migratory birds.”

Lawsuit Filed Over Eagle Killing Rule

On behalf of the American Bird Conservancy and various individuals dedicated to eagle conservation, we have filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging a recent Fish and Wildlife Service regulation greatly expanding the duration of permits to kill or otherwise “take” golden and bald eagles.  The complaint contends that the regulation – which allows companies to obtain permits to kill and injure eagles for up to thirty years, and was issued at the urging of the wind power industry --  was adopted in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.  A copy of the complaint is here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Notice Of Violations Of Law Regarding Removal And Death Of Young Egrets Nesting At the San Antonio Zoo

Today, on behalf of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, we sent a letter to the Director of the San Antonio Zoo and Fish and Wildlife Service officials concerning recent news reports that the FWS has authorized the removal of hundreds of young egrets that have been nesting at the San Antonio Zoo, and requesting that the agency cease authorizing the removal of any more of these birds.  A copy of the Letter can be found here.  The actions in removing the egrets – which has occurred without any public notice and comment and in apparent violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and National Historic Preservation Act – has already resulted in the death of some of the young egrets who were captured, placed in boxes and transported to the San Antonio Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (WRR).  The WRR has been overwhelmed with the very young and fragile birds, who require round-the-clock care and feeding.  The Zoo was apparently given a “depredation” permit by the FWS to remove the birds after complaining about bird droppings from the egret rookery that has been established in trees above one of the Zoo’s exhibits.  Although the Zoo claims that the wildlife is causing a health hazard at the Zoo, there are several alternative measures that could be used to deal with the issue without resorting to wholesale destruction of the rookery and the deaths of young birds.   As we stated in our letter, “It is indeed extremely incongruous that a facility dedicated to the ‘conservation’ of wildlife has resorted to actions that are killing baby egrets protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as a means of addressing a sanitation issue . . . Young children should be taught by example that there are more ethically responsible and humane ways of dealing with a sanitation problem than rounding up, removing, and causing the death of innocent wildlife.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Court Approves Agreement For “Corrective Statements” About Cigarette Company Fraud; Intervenors Urge Court To Include Corrective Statements In Retailer Displays

Earlier this week, Judge Gladys Kessler of the U.S. district court in D.C. approved a comprehensive agreement under which the largest cigarette companies will be required to publish Corrective Statements on five topics in major newspapers and TV networks, and on their own websites and cigarette packs.  Implementation of the agreement, which our Firm helped negotiate on behalf of six public health group intervenors - including Tobacco-Free Kids, American Cancer Society, and American Lung Association - will carry out Judge Kessler’s landmark 2006 ruling finding the companies responsible for massive consumer fraud concerning the adverse health impacts and addictiveness of cigarettes.  The Statements will explain that the companies “deliberately deceived the American public,” and will provide accurate information about their deadly products.  The Statements will run once Defendants’ pending appeal over the precise wording of the Statements is resolved.

Yesterday, we filed a brief urging that the Court also require the Corrective Statements to appear in displays at certain retailers where cigarettes are sold, and where the companies engage in massive marketing.  We explain that this additional venue is critical to insure adequate reach of the Statements, particularly to youth and disadvantaged communities, and that, contrary to the arguments of certain retailers, putting the Statements in their stores will not impact their rights or their bottom line.  Judge Kessler’s recent Order is here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Court Rules That Conservationists’ Suit Against Environmentally Destructive ORV Use May Proceed

Last week, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida rejected the National Park Service’s attempt to dismiss or indefinitely delay litigation seeking to close dozens of miles of off-road vehicle (“ORV”) trails in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve that cause significant damage to sensitive wildlife species including the endangered Florida panther, as well as soil, water, vegetation, and other natural resources.  Although the Park Service has belatedly initiated an environmental review process to attempt to cure these serious legal violations after the fact, the court said that the agency’s tardy (and completely voluntary) environmental review could not serve as the basis for depriving the plaintiffs of their day in court.  We represent the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, South Florida Wildlands Association, and several individuals in this suit.  A press release about the ruling can be found here.