NEWS RELEASEFor Immediate Release
December 5, 2007
Federal Court Overturns Bush Administration's "Not Warranted" Listing Decision for Greater Sage-Grouse
Court Noted "Inexcusable Conduct" by Interior Department Official
The Federal District Court of Idaho rebuked the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for failing to consider the best
available science when it refused to list greater sage-grouse as "threatened"
or "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. The court
reversed and remanded the agency's 12-month "not warranted"
listing decision issued in 2005.
Key excerpts from the federal court decision:
"Sage grouse populations have been in significant decline for decades. While the rate of decline has recently slowed, the sage-grouse's habitat is being subjected to accelerating threats from invasive weeds, fires, energy development, and livestock grazing. About one-half of the original area occupied by sage-grouse is no longer capable of supporting sage-grouse on a year-round basis." (p. 2)
FWS decision process, by excluding sage-grouse experts from the listing decision, "creates opacity when transparency is required." (p. 2-3)
"Furthermore, the FWS decision lacked a coherent analysis of habitat and the regulatory mechanisms and the regulatory mechanisms designed to protect the sage-grouse." (p. 3).
"Finally, the FWS decision was tainted by the inexcusable conduct of one of its own executives, Julie MacDonald, [whose] tactics included everything from editing scientific conclusions to intimidating FWS staffers." (p. 3).
"MacDonald had extensive involvement in the sage-grouse listing decision, used her intimidation tactics in this case, and altered the "best science" to fit a not-warranted decision." (p. 34)
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