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Defenders of Wildlife v. Endangered Species Scientific Auth.

ELR Citation: 11 ELR 20306
Nos. Nos. 79-2512 et al., 659 F.2d 168/20 ERC 1821/(D.C. Cir., 02/03/1981)

The court holds that the Endangered Species Scientific Authority's (ESSA's) 1978 guidelines governing bobcat exports violate the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora by authorizing unreliable findings that the export of bobcats would cause no detriment to the species. Ruling first on procedural issues, the court finds that (1) plaintiffs have rights enforceable under the Convention because it was implemented by the United States in §8(e) of the Endangered Species Act, (2) §6 of the Administrative Procedure Act authorizes the court to review the ESSA's guidelines, and (3) the challenges to the export of bobcats for the 1979-1980 season are not moot even though the season is over because the bases for the challenges also apply to the 1980-1981 season. The court next reverses the district court's dismissal of the portion of the complaint relating to bobcat exports from 26 states and the Navajo Nation because the lower court made no findings of fact and conclusions of law, in violation of Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Turning to the merits, the court finds that the ESSA guidelines violate the Convention which prohibits exports of species listed in Appendix II, including the bobcat, that will be detrimental to the survival of the species. To make a valid no-detriment finding, the guidelines must require a reliable estimate of the total number of bobcats and the number of bobcats to be killed in the season. Thus the court reverses and remands the district court's finding of no detriment because there were no reliable estimates made. The court further finds that the Convention does not require the ESSA to evaluate impacts on subspecies of bobcats in addition to impacts on the species as a whole, nor does it preclude state-by-state detriment determinations. Finally, the court refuses to rule on plaintiffs' claim that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to perform properly its duties under the Convention because plaintiffs failed to submit supporting information into evidence. The court also rules that the district court did not abuse its discretion in (1) limiting cross-examination, (2) not permitting plaintiffs' opening and closing arguments, and (3) striking portions of a witness' testimony.

Counsel Defenders of Wildlife, Inc.
Brice M. Claggett, Ellen Bass, John B. Douglas III, Oscar M. Garibaldi, Lawrence N. Minch
Covington & Burling
888 16th St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 452-6000

Counsel for Int'l Ass'n of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
William A. Hutchins, Paul A. Lenzini
Chapman, Duff & Paul
1730 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 624-8800

Counsel for Conservation Inst. of America et al.
Stephen S. Boynton
1050 17th St. NW, Washington DC 20036
(703) 243-1087

Counsel for Federal Appellees
Dirk D. Snel, Edward J. Shawaker; Angus Macbeth, Deputy Ass't Attorney General; James W. Moorman, Ass't Attorney General
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-4400

Before: McGOWAN and EDWARDS, Circuit Judges, and FRIEDMAN,* Chief Judge, United States Court of Claims.