The first round of motions for summary judgment and briefs in the multi-district polar bear suits were filed on October 20th. A 45-page joint brief was filed challenging the listing by Alaska, SCI and SCIF, Conservation Force, et al, the California Cattlemen’s Association and Congress of Racial Equality. The court had ordered a joint brief but also permitted the parties each to file a supplemental brief. Both the joint brief and Conservation Force et al.’s supplemental brief are on our web site under News and Alerts at http://www.conservationforce.org/news.html.
It was also the deadline for the joint brief of the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, Inc. and Natural Resources Defense Council. They argued that some subpopulations of the bear should be listed as “endangered” instead of just threatened and asked that the rule be remanded and the Service ordered to re-determine the listing within 120 days and that the listing remain in “full force and effect during the remand.” Of note, these plaintiffs make a vehement argument that “hunting is a severe threat to numerous populations of polar bears, including several of the ones most impacted by global warming.” They devote a section to that allegation. Conservation Force has taken the opposite position that all or most populations should not be listed at all and is arguing for import of those trophies already taken until the listing is re-decided.
Wood Bison Downlisting and Permits: Negotiations in the wood bison lawsuit have broken down. The Service would not agree to complete the 12-month and final (24-month) downlisting determinations in a timely manner, so, in early October, Conservation Force filed a motion for summary judgment to move the case to conclusion. The Service wanted to take nearly three years to make the 12-month determination and four years in total to make the final 24-month determination. The deadlines are mandatory under the law. The motion for summary judgment can be found on Conservation Force’s web site at http://www.conservationforce.org/news.html.
In the meantime, the Service (International Affairs, of course) denied all wood bison import permit applications that have been pending as far back as 2000.
Though the Service has published that the Canadian wood bison is an example of a species that should be imported under the “enhancement” section of the ESA, it gave four reasons for the denials.
The first reason was the removal (hunting) “could have reduced the number of stock available for reintroduction efforts throughout its range.” That is not true in fact, but we suppose anything “could be” true.
Second, “it is not clear what impact the anticipated increase in takes would have on the bison population” since “one probable direct effect of issuing the permits would be to increase the lethal take…by US hunters.” No one has ever suggested the total quota would be higher or unsustainable in the particular herd that is undisputed to be above capacity.
Third, “the issuance of denial of these import permits would not have a direct financial effect on Canada’s management programs for the species [because all] revenue…are deposited in a central account….” In other words, Canada does not have a PR Act requiring dedication of license fees. In the case of these particular permits, the price paid for the hunts went directly to bison-related research for the particular population and that was far greater than the mere license fee sum.
Fourth, the Service said it had “no information demonstrating that the population pressures…cannot be otherwise relieved through other means besides lethal take…[even though] the Service’s files indicate that the population from which your trophy was taken may have exceeded the carrying capacity for the area….” The bison are so prolific no other alternative exists.
Fifth, the Service said that “it is possible that the loss of available stock could adversely influence…[r]eintro duction efforts in other parts of the wood bison’s range [that] were ongoing at the time….” This seems to be a repeat of the first reason. It is a very unkind assumption about the Wood Bison Recovery Team, Yukon and Canadian management authorities.
The Service acknowledges its duty to examine the negative consequences of not issuing an import permit, i.e. the jeopardy to the species due to its inaction, but the denials do not disclose that analysis or determination. - John J. Jackson, III.