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Animal Welfare Institute v. Kreps

561 F.2d 1002 (1977)

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Animal Welfare Institute v. Kreps

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

561 F.2d 1002 (1977)

Facts

In 1975, Fouke Company sought a waiver on the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s (protection act) importation moratorium of mammals. Fouke Company aimed to import seals from South Africa for their skin. The Department of Commerce’s director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (the service) waived the moratorium on the condition that no more than 70,000 seals could be taken during South Africa’s annual fall harvest, during which thousands of seals are born. The waiver also required that the seals born during the harvest festival could not be imported until August 1 of the following year. The Animal Welfare Institute and other animal-rights organizations (the organizations) (plaintiffs) sued Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps (defendant) for violating the protection act by allowing the inhumane importation of nursing seals under eight months old. The organizations also argued the waiver was inconsistent with the protection act because the act required the identification of the optimum sustainable population of the mammal being taken and South Africa used the maximum-sustainable-yield metric instead. The service argued that 50 percent of the seals born during each harvest were born by December 1. Therefore, by August 1 of the following year, half of the seals born were at least eight months old. The service also argued that by eight months, any seal still nursing did so out of convenience rather than obligation and that the method used to kill the seals for importation was humane. Because the takings during the 1975 harvest exceeded the 70,000 limit, Fouke Company withdrew its permit. The court dismissed the case on justiciability grounds but then vacated the dismissal on the ground that the waiver could become effective in the future. In 1976, the taking limit was not exceeded, and Fouke Company reapplied for the permit. The service granted the permit. The organizations moved for a temporary restraining order or injunction to prevent the granting of the permit. The court denied the motion and dismissed the case for a lack of standing. The organizations appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wright, J.)

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