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Western Watersheds Project v. Hall

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20251
Nos. No. 06-0073, (D. Idaho, 09/24/2007)

A district court dismissed an environmental group's claim against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for denying the group's listing petition seeking protection of the interior mountain quail as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The group argued that the distinct population segment (DPS) of the quail should qualify for ESA protection due to its declining population and habitat in the Interior Columbia Basin and Great Basin region of the Interior West. The FWS properly considered all of the relevant factors and articulated a rational connection between the facts found and the ultimate conclusion made in this case. The petition failed to show sufficient information or evidence of discreteness. In concluding that the quail has both disjunct populations but also populations that intermix over the boundaries proposed in the petition, the FWS did not improperly require absolute separation. The FWS' decision turned not on whether some intermixing is possible but, instead, on the fact that the proposed DPS boundaries delineated in the petition contain "a blend of both disjunct populations and continuous populations that do not meet the discreteness standard." Further, the petition failed to demonstrate that the interior mountain quail is a distinct species based on other DPS discreteness factors.