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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. United States Department of Agriculture

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20272
Nos. 13-976, (D.D.C., 12/16/2013) (Boasberg, H.)

A district court dismissed an animal rights group's lawsuit seeking to compel USDA to enforce the general Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations with respect to the mistreatment of birds and to promulgate new AWA regulations that are specific to birds. Although the group successfully demonstrated organizational standing, the case was dismissed for failure to state a claim. To the extent the group challenges individual decisions by USDA not to enforce the AWA with respect to particular avian incidents, those decisions are unreviewable because they are "committed to agency discretion by law." And to the extent the group challenges USDA's "general enforcement policy" with respect to birds, it failed to identify any concrete statement of that policy for the court to review. In addition, the AWA does not require USDA to adopt bird-specific standards. USDA's past statements that the general animal-welfare standards are not adequate to protect birds and that bird-specific standards should be considered did not impose an obligation on the agency enforceable under §706(1) of the APA.