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Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20248
Nos. No. 10-5144, (D.C. Cir., 08/03/2011) Aff'd

The D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court decision dismissing an environmental group's action challenging FWS' and the National Park Service's plan for managing elk and bison populations in the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park. Part of this plan includes ending the longstanding agency practice of feeding these animals during the winter. The group challenged the plan because it fails to include a time certain for ending the practice. But the agencies reasonably determined that a deadline for ceasing supplemental feeding would be unduly restrictive in light of the many variables and concerns that need to be accounted for in managing the refuge. There is no doubt that unmitigated continuation of supplemental feeding would undermine the conservation purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The agencies, however, did not act unlawfully by adopting a plan that contained no deadline for ending the practice. The record amply demonstrates that the agencies collected the relevant data, identified the dangers posed by supplemental feeding, and adopted a plan to mitigate those dangers. Accordingly, the agencies' determination that the many objectives of the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, including conservation, could best be met without implementation of a fixed deadline for stopping supplemental feeding was not arbitrary or capricious.