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People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners v. FWS

Citation: 47 ELR 20052
No. 14-4151 & 14-4165, (10th Cir., 03/29/2017)

The Tenth Circuit held that FWS has the authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate the take of the Utah prairie dog. A group of property owners challenged FWS's authority to use the ESA to prohibit take of the Utah prairie dog, an intrastate species, on nonfederal land. A district court granted the group summary judgment on the grounds that neither the Commerce Clause nor the Necessary and Proper Clause authorizes Congress to regulate the species on nonfederal land, because it does not have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The appellate court disagreed, concluding that Congress had a rational basis to believe that regulation of the take of such species on nonfederal land is an essential part of the ESA’s broader regulatory scheme which, in the aggregate, substantially affects interstate commerce. The case was reversed and remanded to the district court.