Delisting

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Stage Set to Sue USFWS for Failing to Delist Species

by | Oct 27, 2015 | Delisting | 0 comments

American Stewards of Liberty (ASL) and its Delisting partners have filed two 60-day Notices of Intent to Sue for failing to delist the Bone Cave harvestman (a spider like cave bug) and the Navasota Ladies’-tresses (a native Texas orchid).

The group filed a petition to delist the Bone Cave harvestman (BCH) last year finding that the species is abundant, thriving, and not impacted by development activities as the Service claimed when it issued its federal protection in 1988.  The best available science supports this position.  However, the Service rejected this position and issued a negative finding last June.  In response, the Delisting partners filed a Notice of Intent to Sue on September 15, 2015, clearing the path for a complaint to be filed in Federal District Court before the year’s end.

A petition to delist the Navasota Ladies’-tresses (NLT) was filed with the Service by ASL and Dr. Steven Carothers, founder of SWCA Environmental Consulting, in May of this year. Instead of considering the petition within the statutorily required 90-day period, the Service replied by stating they did not have the resources to consider the petition this year.  The partners filed a Notice of Intent to Sue for failure to properly consider the petition.  Now, the Service has reversed its position and is planning to make the required review; however, they will not be issuing their decision until next February, still missing the required deadline.

ASL and its partners have now pursued delisting actions on four species: the Bone Cave harvestman, Haulapai Mexican vole, Navasota Ladies’-tresses, and the American Burying Beetle.  The Service agreed the vole needs to be removed from the list and issued its proposed rule June 4, 2015. That decision is expected to be finalized next year.  The group is still waiting for a decision on the ABB, a species known to occur in 10 states.

All of the species ASL and its partners have pursued to have removed from federal protection are abundant and thriving.  Additionally, the effort is exposing a trend in the Service’s listing process.  Too many species have been added to the list simply because very little is known about their habitat, biological needs and potential impacts.  Having minimal data on a species does not justify concluding the species is going extinct. However, that has been the basis for the listing of many species currently under federal protection.

What the delisting partners have uncovered is the lack of scientific accountability in the listing and delisting process. Because of this failing, it has been easy for radical environmental groups to press for listings that fulfill their political agenda.

Landowner Charles Shell, one of the petitioners seeking to remove the BCH from the endangered list, recently described this injustice to the Austin American Statesman, pointing to the need to correct the ESA listing and review process.  Reporter Asher Price writes:

“The discovery of the horror-movie-named Bone Cave harvestman on his [Charles Shell] roughly 130-acre farm in northwest Williamson County could potentially cost Shell hundreds of thousands of dollars in resale value. So he sees the endangered species designation as the government forcing him to extend accommodations to some sort of unwanted visitor: ‘It’s like you go to someone in a subdivision and say, ‘You have a spare bedroom: You have to house a homeless person. And by the way, any damage they cause, that’s your problem.’”

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