Friends of Animals has filed a new suit over the permitting of the scimitar-horned oryx, addax and dama gazelle. In this suit, filed October 16, 2013 in the District of Columbia, they wish to vacate permits of some ranches, enjoin the issuance or renewal of any new permits and vacate the use of the instructions or guidelines created to assist ranchers in completing the permit applications.
The first suit was filed by Friends of Animals in 2006. In 2009, the District Court dismissed most of the claims filed by FoA. All but one claim was dismissed. That was the one that they were entitled to a public notice and opportunity to comment on a ranch-by-ranch basis. The USFWS finally applied a ranch-by-ranch permit application process that had been used for over a decade for other listed exotics like barasingha, Eld’s deer, Arabian oryx and lechwe. In response to complaints about the complex, multi-purpose permit applications that had no instructions of any kind, the USFWS adopted some guidelines for the applications relative to ranchers as distinguished from other breeders like zoos, circuses, research facilities, etc. Now FoA is challenging the permitting practices and the guidelines or instruction sheet that help applicants to wade through those sections that are not applicable to ranchers. The USFWS chose to do that rather than creating a different application form for each user group as we suggested. FoA claims that the preparation of the guidelines should have been a public process with its (FoA) participation, that applicants are not furnishing necessary information on their application forms, and that the 30-day notice period for them to make comments (they oppose all applications) is not sufficient. They are also challenging the enhancement determination being made by the USFWS.
Conservation Force assists most of the ranchers with their applications and renewals as a public conservation service for the good of the species. Our program is called Ranching for Restoration. We also receive and hold in trust 10 percent of the revenue from the harvests for USFWS-pre-approved projects that benefit or restore the respective species in countries of origin. The antis would rather the animals cease to exist rather than a surplus be hunted as an elementary husbandry/management practice. Hence, the antis periodically threaten our project leaders with controversy for accepting and placing funds in selected projects.
In short, FoA wants longer notice so it can oppose the issuance of permits and obtain information to challenge the issuance and undermine the projects intended to enhance the species. We don’t think they have standing because what they want does not further the purpose of the ESA or enhance the three species. If anything, we want to make sure the permitting process is improved, but not eliminated. That we can do by intervening.
There are some more than incidental similarities between the antis recommendations to the Advisory Panel concerning poaching and trafficking (above article) and the comments, notices of intent to sue and suit by FoA. Both claim hunting adds to the “demand,” thus black market price, that lawful hunting has negative “parallel” effects and that lawful trade should be prohibited because the animals are “lookalikes” of those intended to be protected. These are the newest barrage against lawful hunting of any kind.