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International Fund for Animal Welfare v. Baldrige

Citation: 14 ELR 20702
No. No. 84-1838, 594 F. Supp. 129/(D.D.C., 06/29/1984)

The court rules that a seal hunt on the Pribilof Islands scheduled pursuant to the Interim Convention for the Conservation of the North Pacific Fur Seal does not violate the Fur Seal Act (FSA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The court first holds that the FSA empowers but does not require the Secretary to promulgate regulations governing the hunt. Also, the FSA does not require the hunt to further the conservation, management, or protection of the seal. The court holds that the hunt will not violate the MMPA, since the requirements of the MMPA that would prohibit the killings contravene the Convention, and the Convention takes precedence under the terms of the MMPA. Finally, the court rules that the hunt will not violate NEPA. A 1980 environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Convention addressed the impact of annual hunts through 1984. Even if the unanticipated decline in the seal population since 1980 is a significant new circumstance requiring analysis in an EIS, the 1983 draft EIS on extension of the Convention fulfills that obligation. Plaintiffs' remaining NEPA claims are barred by laches, since plaintiffs could have presented them in any of the last four years instead of shortly before the scheduled hunt.

[The D.C. Circuit's rejection of an emergency motion to stay the hunt or summarily reverse this opinion appears at 14 ELR 20731.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
David J. Hayes
Hogan & Hartson
815 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 331-4500

Counsel for Defendants
Eileen Sobeck
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7377