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Mayo v. National Park Service

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20143
Nos. 16-5282, (D.C. Cir., 11/07/2017)

The D.C. Circuit held that the Park Service did not violate NEPA when it authorized recreational hunts of elk in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Teton and the National Elk Refuge (Refuge) are home to the “Jackson herd,” one of the largest concentrations of elk in North America. In 2007, the Service adopted a 15-year plan to manage the herd. The plan set objectives to reduce the population size of the herd, limit their risk of disease, and conserve their habitat. The agency also issued an EIS as required by NEPA. The reduction program saw the Service authorizing a hunt in order to reach the plan's population objective. Two wildlife photographers challenged the plan, arguing the Service was required to prepare a new NEPA analysis every year that it implemented the fifteen-year elk-reduction program, disclosing and analyzing the unique environmental effects of each year’s hunt. The court held that under NEPA an agency is not required to take a new look every time it takes a step that implements a previously studied action, so long as the impacts of that step were contemplated and analyzed by the earlier analysis. The plan was upheld.