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Sunday, April 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Farmers and Cattlemen Want Species Delisted

SEATTLE (CN) - Farmers and ranchers demand that the Secretary of the Interior review the status of five threatened and endangered species, including the gray wolf, the northern spotted owl, the Oregon silverspot butterfly and two plants. The Washington Farm Bureau and its allies say the government's failure to conduct mandatory 5-year reviews "has caused the species to linger on the lists, without any assurances that those species really belong there."

The Washington Cattlemen's Association and the Washington Farm Forestry Association joined as plaintiffs. They say the Interior Department and its creature, the Fish and Wildlife Service, failed to perform the nondiscretionary 5-year status reviews, under the Endangered Species Act. The two plant species at issue are the showy stickseed, and Wenatchee Mountains checkermallow.

The groups object that because of defendants' failure to review the state of the species, "these species - some of which have been listed for decades without such reviews - remain listed as endangered or threatened. The Defendants' failure to complete the status reviews has caused the species to linger on the lists, without any assurances that those species really belong there." (Emphasis in original.)

All five species occur in Washington state. The groups want the status of the gray wolf reviewed "in the lower 48 states, excluding all experimental populations, the Minnesota threatened population, and the Northern Rocky Mountain distinct population segment."

Environmental groups, obviously, disagree. They claim, for example, that the threatened Oregon silverspot butterfly has declined dramatically in the past decade. The Nature Conservancy helps run a captive rearing program for the butterflies, releasing them at its reserve in Cascade Head.

The butterfly lives in coastal headlands, and has declined largely due to habitat loss and fire suppression, which allows grasses to dominate its larval host plant, the western blue violet.

Represented by Daniel Himebaugh with the Pacific Legal Foundation in Bellevue, the agricultural associations demand completion of status reviews for the five species.

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