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Southwest Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Babbitt

Citation: 30 ELR 20685
No. No. 99-5313, 215 F.3d 58/(D.C. Cir., 06/16/2000)

The court holds that a district court acted outside its authority when it ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to conduct an onsite population count of the Queen Charlotte goshawk in order to determine if the species should be listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court first holds that the district court clearly exceeded its authority in ordering the FWS to conduct a population count of the goshawk species. ESA § 4 requires the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to list a species as endangered or threatened if, based solely on the best available data, the DOI determines that one of the five ESA § 4(a)(1) factors for listing a species is implicated. The best available data requirement makes it clear that the DOI has no obligation to conduct independent studies. Instead of ruling whether or not the best available evidence required the FWS to list the goshawk, the district court ignored the statute and the parties' arguments and determined that the DOI was obligated to find better data. The court, therefore, remands the decision so the district court can determine whether the best available evidence supports the FWS' decision not to list the goshawk.

Counsel for Appellees
Katherine A. Meyer
Meyer & Glitzenstein
1601 Connecticut Ave. NW. Ste. 450, Washington DC 20009
(202) 588-5206

Counsel for Appellants
Andrew C. Mergen
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Before Randolph and Rogers, JJ.