Court Upholds ESA Protections for Intrastate Species
In a sweeping victory for our nation’s endangered species, the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld federal Endangered Species Act protections for the Utah prairie dog this week – a win for the prairie dog, all other endangered intrastate species (like the red wolf), and the ESA itself.
The decision overturns an unprecedented 2014 lower-court ruling, which found that the ESA did not have the authority to mandate protections for species that are only present within one state, like the Utah prairie dog. This 2014 ruling was a severe blow to the ESA. By providing state governors with the power to ignore ESA regulations, the ruling allowed political interests to decide the fate of intrastate endangered species instead of science as mandated by federal law.
This week’s ruling marks the sixth time a federal appeals court has considered and rejected similar challenges to the ESA – one case pertaining to the critically endangered red wolf in North Carolina.
This being said, it will likely be appealed to the Supreme Court, but the 10th Circuit’s decision may make it less likely that the high court takes up the issue.