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Western Watersheds Project v. USDA Aphis Wildlife Services

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20104
Nos. 1:17-CV-206-BLW, (D. Idaho, 06/22/2018) (Winmill, J.)

A district court granted environmental groups' motion for summary judgment and required USDA's Wildlife Services to conduct a more thorough analysis of the potential impacts of its predator-killing operations before expanding those operations to game animals and protected species. Environmental groups argued that Wildlife Services should have prepared an EIS to analyze and disclose its predator-killing activities. The court found that Wildlife Services had circulated its draft EA to other agencies with long experience and expertise in managing game animals and protected species, which prompted numerous critical comments. Instead of studying these concerns in greater depth in an EIS, Wildlife Services largely rejected the criticisms, finding they were invalid for various reasons. Under NEPA, an agency may use a convincing and objective analysis to reject criticisms and refuse to prepare an EIS. But that was not done here. While Wildlife Services responded in detail to criticisms expressed by other agencies, its reasons for rejecting them were not convincing and objective. Because Wildlife Services did not prepare an EIS and carefully consider how its predator-killing activities impact the environment, the court granted the motion for summary judgment.