Description: Challenge to the Bull Trout Recovery Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015.
Save the Bull Trout v. Williams
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/28/2022 Opinion Download Judgment for defendants affirmed on claim preclusion grounds. Ninth Circuit Said Environmental Groups Could Not Bring New Challenge to Bull Trout Recovery Plan. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the doctrine of claim preclusion barred environmental groups from challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2015 Bull Trout Recovery Plan in the District of Montana. The Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs “must bear the consequences of their strategic choices” in earlier litigation in the District of Oregon, where they initially decided not to amend their complaint to fix jurisdictional deficiencies identified by the district court and instead unsuccessfully appealed, after which they filed an unsuccessful motion to amend. The plaintiffs in the District of Oregon litigation, joined by one additional plaintiff, then filed a new lawsuit in the District of Montana to challenge the recovery plan for failing to incorporate recovery criteria that satisfied Endangered Species Act requirements. The groups’ complaint alleged that climate change would reduce bull trout habitat and stress existing populations. The Ninth Circuit noted that both the claim identity and privity elements of claim preclusion were met and further found that there was a final judgment in the District of Oregon.
Save the Bull Trout v. Everson
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 11/18/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Conservation Groups Launched New Challenge to Bull Trout Recovery Plan. Three conservation groups filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the District of Montana to challenge the Bull Trout Recovery Plan approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2015. The plaintiffs previously challenged the plan in the District of Oregon, which dismissed the case without prejudice. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal, and in July 2019, the district court in Oregon denied a motion to amend the complaint but left open the possibility that the plaintiffs could file a new complaint. In the District of Montana complaint, the plaintiffs asserted that the recovery plan failed to incorporate objective and measurable recovery criteria and failed to incorporate recovery criteria that addressed Endangered Species Act delisting factors. The complaint alleged that “[c]limate change has, and will continue to affect bull trout habitat,” with changes including “warmer air and water temperatures and reduced stream flows” that “will reduce available bull trout habitat, stress existing populations and allow more heat tolerant non-native species to out-compete bull trout.”