||Brandon M. Middleton
Pacific Legal Foundation
Feds are asked to lift unjustified, job-killing caribou regulations
Bonner County, Idaho; May 9, 2012: The South Selkirk Mountains herd of caribou should be taken off the federal Endangered Species Act list, because the herd isn’t distinct in a legally or biologically relevant way from the vast population of caribou elsewhere on the North American continent.
So argue attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) in a delisting petition submitted today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Caribou aren’t endangered, when you look at North America as a whole, and the federal government can’t legally single out this single herd in isolation,” said PLF attorney Brandon M. Middleton. “The unjustified ESA listing should be dropped and the economically destructive regulations that it has caused, should be lifted.”
Donor-supported PLF is the leading watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts nationwide. PLF recently won a high-profile case at the U.S. Supreme Court for Priest Lake, Idaho, residents Mike and Chantell Sackett, which affirmed their right to challenge the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s effective takeover of their land with a wetlands “compliance order.”
In the caribou challenge, PLF attorneys represent Bonner County, which has been hit hard economically because of the caribou listing, and the Idaho State Snowmobile Association, whose thousands of members have been unjustifiably barred from using recreational trails.
PLF represents both the County and the Association free of charge — as it does for all its clients. (The county commissioners have appropriated funds to cover incidental costs of the litigation, such as filing costs and attorneys’ travel expenses, but PLF is not charging any legal fees for attorneys’ time spent litigating the case.)
The listing’s economic threat extends to school funding
The economic impact of the unjustified caribou listing threatens to intensify under the federal government’s proposal to designate 375,562 acres as “critical caribou habitat” in Idaho’s Bonner and boundary counties and Washington’s Pend Oreille County. New restrictions could be triggered on logging and road building, as well as winter recreation.
Dustin Miller, acting director for Idaho Governor Butch Otter’s Office of Species Conservation, pointed out to the Spokane Spokesman-Review that the proposed critical habitat includes tens of thousands of acres of state timberland that generates funding for public schools. The new habitat restrictions reportedly could cost the state millions of dollars in lost revenue.
County commissioner: Feds are killing jobs with no environmental justification
Bonner County Commissioner
Bonner County Commissioner Mike Nielsen issued this statement: “Caribou are majestic animals, and thank goodness they are not endangered. There are hundreds of thousands of caribou in Canada. All that the ESA listing does in Idaho is threaten our economy by putting winter tourism and recreation on the endangered list. There simply is no justification for severe, destructive restrictions on property and people in Idaho, to help a species that doesn’t need help — a species that is thriving north of the border. Moreover, the federal government has consistently failed to acknowledge that, if there’s a threat to caribou in Idaho, it’s from predators, not from recreation or other human activity.”
Snowmobilers: we’re environmentalists, but we want sound science
The Idaho State Snowmobile Association (ISSA) is a statewide organization representing approximately 4,000 people, including 41 clubs, individuals, and many businesses throughout Idaho. Approximately 54,000 snowmobiles are registered in Idaho each year.
Sandra Mitchell, ISSA’s public lands director, issued this statement: “We’re seeing a piece by piece destruction of recreational opportunities as more and more trails get closed off. For destination areas like Priest Lake in Bonner County, these trail closures have a big economic impact, by undermining the tourism industry. And these restrictions are being imposed without scientific basis, without a showing that recreationists cause harm to caribou.
“The members of ISSA do not want our sport to endanger woodland caribou or any other species. However, we also do not want to be the victims of ‘feel-good’ biology that is based on personal biases rather than scientific studies and findings.
About Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation (www.pacificlegal.org) is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country. Among its noteworthy species-regulation cases, PLF won the federal court ruling that removed the bald eagle from the federal ESA list.
PLF’s recent victory in Sackett v. EPA was its sixth precedent-setting victory for liberty and limited government at the U.S. Supreme Court.