Lawsuit prods feds to review whether species still need oversight

Dec 3, 2010
by WLJ

The Washington Cattlemen’s Association (WCA) and the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) claimed a huge victory one day after filing a lawsuit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the United States District Court Western District of Washington.

WCA and PLF brought a citizen suit seeking an order requiring the defendants to complete mandatory status reviews for the gray wolf, northern spotted owl, Oregon silverspot butterfly, showy stickseed, and Wenatchee Mountains checkermallow. Each of these species occurs in the state of Washington and each is currently listed as endangered or threatened, but none of these species has undergone status review by the defendants in the last five years as the Endangered Species Act requires.

Just one day after the lawsuit was filed, USFWS announced that it is initiating the five-year reviews for 58 species in Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii. “This is an excellent announcement that validates the position that we took in our suit,” said Jack Field, WCA executive vice president.

“It is regrettable that it took legal action to force regulators to abide by their legal obligations—and they still must agree to review the gray wolf’s status. In these difficult economic times, it is especially important that all regulations be reviewed to see whether they are still justified scientifically. With historically high levels of unemployment, we have to be certain that we lift any and all unnecessary restrictions on land use and productive activity that can create jobs and help our economy get out of the ditch,” said Daniel Himebaugh, attorney for PLF.

USFWS, however, did not include the gray wolf in its list of species to be reviewed. Larry Olberding Jr., WCA president, said the gray wolf is a major concern to ranchers throughout Washington and as a result, WCA will continue to push USFWS to conduct a status review on the gray wolf.

WCA and PLF are fighting every day for ranchers and landowners throughout Washington. You can help the fight by sending your donation to Washington Cattlemen’s Association, PO Box 96, Ellensburg, WA 98926, and Pacific Legal Foundation, 10940 NE 33rd Place, Suite 210, Bellevue, WA 98004. — WLJ