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Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20164
Nos. 16-CV-1932-MSK-STV, (D. Colo., 09/26/2019) (Krieger, J.)

A district court vacated in part and remanded in part FWS' 2014 determination to remove the Rio Grande cutthroat trout from the ESA list of endangered and threatened wildlife. An environmental group argued that FWS failed to adequately explain why it used different methodologies in its 2008 and 2014 determinations to calculate the number of healthy trout populations. The court agreed, finding that the change was arbitrary and capricious because FWS offered no explanation for changing its criteria for determining whether a given trout population was healthy and stable. The group next argued that FWS applied the wrong standard in determining that the trout was not threatened with future extinction throughout its range. The court found that because the record supported the conclusion that 50 viable populations of trout would remain in 2080, the trout was neither presently endangered nor threatened with being so in the foreseeable future, and thus that the claim lacked merit. It also argued that FWS failed to consider the five factors identified in the ESA for deciding whether to list a species. The court disagreed, finding that FWS clearly considered the factors and incorporated them into its analysis. It therefore reversed and remanded to FWS for the limited purpose of explaining the agency's reason for concluding in 2014 that populations of less than 2,500 trout could be considered stable and healthy, and affirmed the 2014 determination in all other respects.