Court Revives Challenge to NV Predator Limits

     (CN) – A federal judge improperly sidelined a challenge by environmentalists to predator-control measures in Nevada, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday.
     The nonprofit WildEarth Guardians brought the case at hand in Nevada over a plan that the U.S. government adopted in 2011, with cooperation from the Nevada Wildlife Services Program, to manage predators in the Silver State.
     WildEarth complained that the program relied on outdated data and harmed the ability of its members to enjoy outdoor activities.
     It contended that one of its members, a bird watcher named Don Molde, has observed fewer ravens and coyotes, and that he walks his dog less for fear that the animal will get caught in one of the traps that the state lays for predators.
     U.S. District Judge Miranda Nu in Nevada dismissed the case for lack of standing, but a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit reversed Monday.
     One prong of the case challenges the government’s reliance on a programmatic environmental impact statement, or PEIS, from 1994 and revised in 1997.
     “WildEarth alleged that the data, science, and analysis used in the PEIS were based on studies from the 1970s and 1980s that have been called into question by more recent research,” Judge Michelle Friedman wrote for the court in San Francisco.
     Friedman found that the injuries Molde alleges “are concrete enough, and are sufficiently causally related to” the failure by the government to update the PEIS.
     WildEarth likewise has standing, according to the ruling, to advance claims over the government’s failure to prepare a Nevada-specific EIS.
     The feds failed to sway the panel that its withdrawal of a predator-management program would compel Nevada to institute an identical replacement.
     “Nevada might adopt practices that would be less harmful to WildEarth’s interests, or it might devote less funding to predator-damage management than APHIS currently provides,” Friedman wrote, abbreviating the federal Animal and Plant Inspection Service. “Indeed, the Nevada environmental assessment found that, at a minimum, a Nevada-run program likely would greatly reduce aerial hunting and the killing of ravens, both of which would partially redress Molde’s injuries. The notion that Nevada would replace everything APHIS currently does is therefore speculative at best.”
     In dismissing the complaint, the lower court had “erroneously”
     Officials for WildEarth and Nevada Wildlife Services Program were not immediately available for comment.

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