Description: Challenge to determination that the Sonoran Desert population of bald eagles did not constitute a distinct population segment and was not eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Zinke
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 08/28/2017 Opinion Download Summary judgment for defendants affirmed. Ninth Circuit Upheld Determination That Desert Eagles Were Not a Distinct Population Segment Eligible for Listing Under Endangered Species Act. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) determination that the Sonoran Desert Area bald eagle was not a distinct population segment (DPS) eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The Ninth Circuit held that the FWS had reasonably concluded that though the unusual characteristics of the desert eagle population segment satisfied the “persistence” factor for significance, those characteristics did not necessarily require a conclusion that the population segment was ecologically or biologically significant for the bald eagle taxon as a whole. The Ninth Circuit also held that the FWS had reasonably found that extirpation of the desert eagle population segment would not create a significant gap in the range of the taxon. The Ninth Circuit also rejected the argument that the FWS had ignored climate change as a factor for determining the desert eagles’ significance to the taxon, finding that the FWS “directly addressed climate change” and concluded that the best information available indicated that climate change was not a significant threat to the bald eagle.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 11/05/2014 Order Download Order issued upholding U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determination. The federal district court for the District of Arizona rejected a challenge to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) determination that the Sonoran Desert population of bald eagles did not constitute a distinct population segment (DPS) under the Endangered Species Act and was therefore not eligible for listing as threatened or endangered. One of plaintiffs’ arguments was that the FWS’s determination had failed to consider climate change as a relevant factor for establishing a DPS. The court found that the FWS had considered whether the Sonoran Desert bald eagles had unique characteristics that would help bald eagles as a whole under conditions caused by climate change, even though it had not done so under the heading of climate change.