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Animal Protection Inst. of Am. v. Hodel

Citation: 19 ELR 20251
No. No. 87-2683, 860 F.2d 920/(9th Cir., 10/31/1988) Aff'd

The court holds that the Secretary of the Interior may not transfer title to an animal under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act (WHBA) when he knows prior to the transfer that the animal will be commercially exploited by the adopter. The court first holds that plaintiff has organizational standing. Plaintiff's members, pursuant to an agreement between it and the Secretary, have the right to inspect wild horses and burros maintained in Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holding facilities in order to ensure that the animals receive humane treatment. This right is injured by the Secretary's removal of animals from BLM holding facilities. The court then holds that title to animals may not be transferred to adopters when the Secretary knows prior to the transfer that the animals will be commercially exploited by the adopters. Congress did not intend the term "qualified individual" in WHBA §3(c) to include adopters who will use the animals for commercial purposes. Moreover, the legislative history of the WHBA reveals that the one-year adoption period preceding transfer of title was meant to weed out unfit adopters. The court declines to address the validity of the Secretary's practice of allowing adopters to use powers of attorney, since plaintiff did not raise this issue below.

[The district court's decision is published at 18 ELR 20398.]

Counsel for Defendants-Appellants
Blake A. Watson
Appellate Section, Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2772

Counsel for Plaintiffs-Appellees
W. Craig James
Skinner, Fawcett & Mauk
515 S. Sixth St., P.O. Box 700, Boise ID 83701-0700
(208) 345-2654

Before Canby, Jr and Trott, JJ.