Friday, March 13, 2015

The Norfolk Eagles Have Eaglets!

We are thrilled to announce the birth of eaglets who are the offspring of the Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles we have been working to protect for several years on behalf of the Eagle On Alliance.  Despite the Wildlife Services’ efforts to keep the eagles from nesting – having torn down nine different nests at the Norfolk Botanical Garden – the eagles outsmarted the federal government and moved to a loblolly pine tree on private property where they cannot be touched by Wildlife Services.  After the Fish and Wildlife Service granted the City of Norfolk permits to destroy the eagles’ nests at the Botanical Garden on the grounds that the eagles posed a threat to human safety at the nearby Norfolk International Airport, we filed suit on behalf of EOA to stop the nest destruction, arguing that none of the standards for such activities had been met under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, especially when the well-heeled Airport had failed to take minimum steps to reduce the chance of a bird strike, instead spending millions of dollars putting in a skylight and marble floors at the Airport.  When Wildlife Services lost its bid to be dismissed from the suit, the Airport hired full-time staff to detect and deter wildlife at the Airport and the eagles wisely relocated to safer quarters.  Eagle On Alliance dismissed its lawsuit and started monitoring the new nest activities to ensure the eagles would remain unharmed – and undeterred – in their tenth effort to start a family.  They started building their new nest several months ago, the private property owners steadfastly refused to allow the destruction of the nest, and now, as of yesterday, we have new born eaglets!  The photo below are the Norfolk eagles attending to their young. 

Mike Inman ©

Success In Thwarting Efforts To Remove Wild Horses From The Nevada Range

Judge Du of the Federal District Court for Nevada has granted our motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by various Nevada ranching interests to compel the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to remove thousands of wild horses from public lands in Nevada and to give management priority to livestock interests on those lands.  On behalf of the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and two individuals we intervened in the case last fall.  Granting our motion to dismiss, Judge Du held that the livestock interests  “fail[ed] to identify any final agency action that warrants judicial review, or any inaction that can be compelled; rather, Plaintiffs ask the Court to ensure that Federal Defendants’ management of wild horses and burros in Nevada complies with [their view of ] the Wild Horse Act.  The Court lacks jurisdiction to oversee such a sweeping request.”  The full decision can be found here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Ringling Brothers Announces It Will No Longer Use Elephants In Its Circus

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus today announced that it will finally phase out the use of Asian elephants in its Circus.  See New York Times.  With the help of many animal advocates and elephant experts, the Firm has been working on this issue for many years and took the lead in representing a coalition of animal protection groups and Tom Rider, a former barn man for the Circus, in a lawsuit brought under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), contending that the Circus “takes” the endangered elephants – i.e., “wounds” and “harms them within the meaning of the ESA – by hitting them with sharp bull hooks to make them perform circus tricks, and by keeping them chained on concrete and other hard surfaces for many hours each day.  Elephants are extremely social, intelligent animals, who, in the wild, walk many miles each day.  Although the ESA case was dismissed in 2010 because the Judge found that none of the Plaintiffs had demonstrated adequate Article III standing – and hence he concluded that he did not have jurisdiction under the Constitution to decide the merits of the Plaintiffs’ claims of mistreatment – the evidence produced at the 7 week trial corroborated the plaintiffs' claims concerning the way that the elephants must be treated in order for them to participate in a traveling circus.  Here is Katherine Meyer discussing this development on NPR.