Description: Challenge to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision not to list the Florida Keys mole skink under the Endangered Species Act.
Center for Biological Diversity v. Bernhardt
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 09/27/2019 Order Download Case dismissed without prejudice. The parties agreed to the dismissal of the lawsuit without prejudice in contemplation of the filing of an amended complaint in a related Freedom of Information Act case already pending before the court. 09/23/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Said Determination that Island-Dwelling Lizard Was Not Endangered or Threatened Was Unlawful. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a lawsuit in federal district court in the Southern District of Florida claiming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS's) decision not to list the Florida Keys mole skink under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was unlawful. The complaint alleged that the skink is “a severely imperiled, island-dwelling lizard that is steadily losing what remains of its limited habitat to urban development and rising seas.” CBD said the FWS failed to provide a rational explanation for finding that the skink was not endangered or threatened even though the agency’s projections indicated that sea level rise would inundate half of the skink’s habitat by 2060 and nearly all of it by 2100. The complaint also alleged that the FWS “ignored or dismissed myriad cumulative impacts of climate change,” including increased storm surge and changes in precipitation and temperature. The complaint asserted that FWS failed to use best available scientific data in violation of the ESA and unlawfully limited the “foreseeable future” to 2060 when the FWS had projections through 2100. In addition, the complaint asserted that the FWS failed to consider the ESA’s five listing factors, failed to lawfully analyze whether the skink was threatened or endangered “in a significant portion of its range,” failed to apply the definitions of “endangered” and “threatened,” and acted arbitrarily and capriciously.