Environmental Groups’ NEPA Challenge to USDA Wolf Killing Survives

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On April 23, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that environmental groups have standing to challenge the federal government’s killing of gray wolves in Idaho without conducting additional analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). Western Watersheds Project et al. v. Grimm, No. 18-35075 (9th Cir. 2019).
Environmental groups brought an action against the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services (“Wildlife Services”), alleging that NEPA requires Wildlife Services to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and supplement its 2011 Environmental Assessment for the agency’s killing of Northern Rocky Mountain gray wolves (Canis lupus irremotus) in Idaho. The wolves were delisted under the Endangered Species Act in 2011, returning wolf management to state control. Since then, Wildlife Services has supported the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s (“IDFG”) wolf management actions through non-lethal and lethal management strategies, such as aerial shooting operations, to protect livestock and ungulates.<<<Read More>>>