Description: Challenge to denial of request for status review of distinct population segment of Yellowstone bison.
Buffalo Field Campaign v. Williams
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 01/12/2022 Memorandum Opinion Download Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment granted and decision remanded to the Fish and Wildlife Service for further review. Federal Court Vacated Denial of Petition to List Yellowstone Bison as Endangered or Threatened. The federal district court for the District of Columbia vacated and remanded the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) 2019 denial of a petition to list the Yellowstone bison as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. In 2018, the court remanded the denial of earlier petitions to list the Yellowstone bison, finding that the FWS “applied an inappropriately heightened standard to the evaluation” of whether to initiate a listing proceeding “[b]y picking between two opposing views in an ongoing scientific dispute.” In its review of the 2019 denial, the court similarly concluded that the FWS’s 90-day finding rejecting the listing petition “fails to comport with the governing evidentiary standard at the 90-day stage and disregards an important aspect of the issue that was before it” because the finding again failed to credit a peer-reviewed study submitted by the petitioners and did not offer a “reasoned explanation” for its choice. The court noted that the plaintiffs raised “an array of challenges” to the FWS’s decision on remand—including an alleged failure to adequately analyze the foreseeable risk of climate change to the Yellowstone bison—but that most of the challenges related to the application of the incorrect evidentiary standard. 03/23/2020 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Challenged New Denial of Request for Status Review of Yellowstone Bison. Three organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) decision not to initiate a status review of the distinct population segment (DPS) of Yellowstone bison pursuant to the Endangered Species Act. The organizations alleged that the FWS failed to address deficiencies previously identified by the court in a 2016 decision not to initiate review. The plaintiffs asserted that the decision was arbitrary and capricious because the FWS, among other shortcomings, failed “to adequately analyze the foreseeable risk to the DPS of Yellowstone bison due to climate change.”