Saturday, May 4, 2013

Northern Spotted Owl v. Hodel case brief

Northern Spotted Owl v. Hodel case brief
716 F.Supp. 479 (W.D.Wash. 1988)

CASE SYNOPSIS: Plaintiff environmental organizations sought review of defendant United States Fish & Wildlife Service's decision not to list the northern spotted owl as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C.S. § 1531 et seq. The organizations alleged that the Service's action was arbitrary and capricious or contrary to law.

FACTS: After the Service declined to list the owl as endangered or threatened under the Act, the organizations sought review of that decision. The court remanded the matter to the Service and directed it to provide, within 90 days, an analysis for its decision that listing the owl as threatened or endangered was not warranted. In addition, the court ordered the Service to supplement its status review and petition finding in a manner that was consistent with the court's ruling. The court held that the Service disregarded all the expert opinion on population viability that the owl was facing extinction, and instead merely asserted the Service's opinion in support of its conclusions. The Service failed to provide its own or other expert analysis in support of its conclusions. Accordingly, the Service's decision not to list the owl was arbitrary and capricious and was contrary to law. It was not possible to determine from the record that the Service considered the related issue of whether the owl was a threatened species. The Service's failure to review and make an express finding on the issue of threatened status also was arbitrary and capricious and was contrary to law.

CONCLUSION: The court remanded the matter to the Service and directed the Service to provide an analysis for its decision that listing the northern spotted owl as threatened or endangered was not currently warranted. Further, the court ordered the Service to supplement its status review and petition finding.

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