(CN) - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has the authority to designate and protect threatened species, a New Jersey appeals court ruled. The court upheld the agency's decision to bar a developer from destroying the wetland habitat of the barred owl.
ZRB LLC appealed the denial of a permit to fill wetlands and build a 16-lot subdivision on its property. The department denied the permit because it would destroy the habitat of the barred owl, which is a threatened species in New Jersey.
ZRB argued that the agency did not have that authority, and that its decision was arbitrary and capricious.
Judge Winkelstein disagreed.
"The authority to protect threatened species is found in the definition of endangered species in the New Jersey Endangered Species Act," the judge wrote.
Winkelstein also found that the department's decision was based on credible evidence and expert testimony.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.