Much like the wood bison, two suits were filed in the parallel Markhor Initiative after 10 years of broken promises that it would be downlisted and the trophies would be permitted for importation. The difference is the markhor downlisting was filed in 2000, and the USF&WS has raised the defense that its 2001 positive 90-day finding and promises did not interrupt the six-year litigation deadline for civil suits.
The US Supreme Court recently appointed a new federal judge from another district court to hear the cases that have not really moved in two years. In February, the new judge ordered a joint report from Conservation Force and the government on the status of the two markhor cases. The cases are now expected to go forward.
Conservation Force and the other plaintiffs have filed a second petition to downlist the Suleiman markhor of the Torghar Project. We did this after more than a year of waiting on a decision by the previous judge on whether or not we can enforce the first downlisting petition. The USF&WS has defaulted on its obligation to make a 90-day finding on the 2010 downlisting petition and we have sent a notice of intent to sue but have not yet filed that suit. The USF&WS has responded that it can’t find the time and resources to timely process the new downlisting petition, i.e. make a 90-day determination until this Spring, if then. It literally states it is too busy listing other Canadian species!
In the meantime, Conservation Force, Osprey Filming Company and Hunter Proud have completed a DVD that is being distributed by partners Wild Sheep Foundation and Grand Slam Club/OVIS. The DVD documentary on the Torghar Project tells the whole remarkable story of the recovery of that distinct population and the underlying hunting base. These straight-horned, Suleiman markhor should not be confused with the Astor and Kashmir markhor that are both already importable as a result of Conservation Force’s successful Other Markhor initiative.
Although we don’t yet have the administrative record in Markhor I or II, we have completed a thorough review of all Federal Register Notices, delisting status and prioritization of listing and delisting schedules published by the USF&WS. Other than making a positive 90-day finding more than 10 years ago, the Agency has never included the Suleiman markhor downlisting petition in its scheduling planning and budgeting! This was a shocking revelation. The new petition to downlist is to be processed, and we are here to ensure that it is processed. Markhor III is being drafted as this is being written. We also are not abandoning the first petition. It will be pursued to the Supreme Court if necessary.