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Wild Fish Conservancy v. Salazar

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20037
Nos. No. 09-35531, (9th Circ., 12/07/2010)

The Ninth Circuit held that FWS' biological opinion addressing a hatchery project's impact on the bull trout in the Columbia River violates the ESA. Although the hatchery project is intended to mitigate a dam's impacts on Chinook salmon, it has seriously disrupted the migration and spawning activity of the bull trout. Nevertheless, the FWS' 2008 biological opinion concluded that the hatchery's operations were not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the bull trout. The court, however, held that the biological opinion was arbitrary and capricious because the FWS limited the analysis to a five-year period, failed to articulate a rational connection between the facts found and the no-jeopardy conclusion, and issued an incidental take statement lacking adequate monitoring and reporting requirements. In addition, the hatchery's reliance on a legally flawed biological opinion was arbitrary and capricious. It therefore violated its substantive duty to ensure that its operations and maintenance did not jeopardize the continued existence of the bull trout. The court therefore reversed and remanded a lower court decision in favor of the FWS.