Defenders of Wildlife v. Endangered Species Scientific Authority

659 F.2d 168 (1981)

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Defenders of Wildlife v. Endangered Species Scientific Authority

United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit
659 F.2d 168 (1981)

Facts

The United States entered a treaty, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), wherein it accepted certain obligations to protect endangered wildlife and plants. Pursuant to CITES, the United States required strict regulation of species included on Appendix II that were not then threatened with extinction but were at risk of becoming threatened. Bobcats were included on Appendix II, and thus special permits were required to export bobcat pelts. The Endangered Species Scientific Authority (the ESSA) (defendant) was the designated entity monitoring the number of export permits granted in any given year and setting quotas. The ESSA was to make its determinations based on whether the exports would be detrimental to the survival of the bobcat species. In 1979, the ESSA announced in its “Findings in Favor of Export” guidelines that it would approve the export of thousands of bobcat pelts in 34 states and the Navajo Nation, as it found no detriments would occur to the bobcat population in these areas. The Defenders of Wildlife, Inc. (the Defenders) (plaintiff) filed a complaint seeking injunctive relief preventing the approval of the permits. The district court granted a temporary restraining order barring the export of the bobcat pelts until a hearing could be held. After the hearing, the district court set aside the ESSA’s no-detriment findings in five states and portions of two other states and dismissed the Defenders’s complaint with respect to the remaining states and the Navajo Nation. The Defenders appealed the dismissals, arguing that the ESSA’s guidelines were wholly arbitrary because they did not require adequate scientific data to support no detriment to the bobcat population would occur.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Friedman, J.)

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