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Grunewald v. Jarvis

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20012
Nos. 13-5136, (D.C. Cir., 01/20/2015)

The D.C. Circuit upheld the National Park Service's (NPS') deer management plan for Rock Creek National Park in Washington, DC. The plan involves the killing of white-tailed deer to reduce the herd to an ecologically sustainable level. An animal rights group argued that NPS failed to comply with the Park's enabling statute in violation of the APA. It also alleged that NPS' EIS violated NEPA. A lower court granted summary judgment in favor of the government, and the D.C. Circuit affirmed. NPS reasonably interpreted the enabling statute's mandate to preserve animals from harm "as nearly as possible" to permit killing some animals to prevent serious harms to other natural resources, even before those harms have fully materialized. In addition, the evidence supports NPS' conclusion that deer are having significant negative impacts on forest vegetation. NPS, therefore, did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in violation of the APA. Nor did NPS violate NEPA when it chose not to consider a "plants-only" option as an alternative. Similarly, NPS was not required to analyze its 2004 Draft Exotic Plant Management Plan in the same NEPA document as its Deer Management Plan. And concerns that some members of the public might be psychologically harmed by simply knowing that deer are killed in Rock Creek Park is too remote an impact and falls outside the scope of NEPA.