Description: Challenge to denial of delisting petition for bone cave harvestman.
American Stewards of Liberty v. Department of the Interior
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/28/2019 Memorandum Opinion and Order Download 2017 finding on delisting petition vacated and remanded for further consideration. Texas Federal Court Said Fish and Wildlife Service Should Not Have Required Unavailable Data—Including Climate Change Information—in Delisting Petition for “Elusive Spider”. The federal district court for the Western District of Texas found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it denied a petition to remove the bone cave harvestman—“an elusive spider known to inhabit only Travis and Williamson Counties, Texas”—from the list of endangered species. The court found that the FWS violated its own regulations by requiring that the petition “essentially present conclusive evidence about the harvestman’s population trends—more evidence than the Service admits is available or attainable.” The FWS had cited the absence of population data, including the absence of “trend analysis to indicate that this species can withstand the threats associated with development or climate change over the long term,” as grounds for its conclusion that the petition did not present sufficient information to demonstrate that delisting might be warranted. The court concluded that the FWS did not deny the petition based on the best available data, as required by the Endangered Species Act and the FWS regulations, because it denied the petition based on the absence of “admittedly unavailable” evidence. The court concluded that the petition met the threshold for a finding that delisting may be warranted and remanded to the FWS for further consideration.