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Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
691 F.3d 428 (2012)


The Friends of Blackwater, an environmental interest group seeking to preserve the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and others (plaintiffs) filed suit against Kenneth Lee Salazar, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and others (defendants), challenging the removal of the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel (the Squirrel) from the endangered or threatened species list. In its final rule delisting the Squirrel, the FWS relied upon “persistence” data from a five-year recovery plan that suggested the animal’s population was not declining. Plaintiffs argued (1) the promulgation of the delisting rule violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by failing to meet the “objective and measureable” criteria listed in the recovery plan and (2) the rule itself was arbitrary and capricious because it was not based on the best available science. The district court agreed and held for plaintiffs. Defendants appealed.

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