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Wildearth Guardians v. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20183
Nos. 9:17-cv-00099-DWM, (D. Mont., 10/26/2018) (Molloy, J.)

A district court granted in part environmental groups' motion for summary judgment in a challenge to FWS' administration of a wildlife export program under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The groups argued that the agency violated NEPA when it did not prepare an EIS to adequately analyze the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of the CITES program. The court found that the agency was not required to prepare an EIS because the administration of the program did not amount to a "major federal action" and thus did not trigger NEPA. The groups also argued that the incidental take statement referenced and incorporated in the agency's EA was deficient under the ESA. The court determined that the statement for the threatened Canada lynx did not set adequate triggers for determining when an authorized level of take has been exceeded and failed to minimize incidental take of the species that could result from bobcat trapping. The court therefore denied the groups' motion as to their NEPA claims and granted the motion as to their ESA claims.