State v. Sour Mountain Realty, Inc.
New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division
714 N.Y.S.2d 78 (2000)
Sour Mountain Realty, Inc. (Sour Mountain) (defendant) discovered a timber-rattlesnake den approximately 260 feet from its property. When Sour Mountain notified the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that it planned to construct a snake-proof fence along a portion of its property, the DEC warned Sour Mountain that construction of the fence might violate state law if it was deemed to modify, degrade, or limit the habitat of the threatened species. Sour Mountain disagreed, claiming that the DEC’s authority was limited only to the prevention of intentional killing or harming of endangered or threatened species and that the impact of its fence on the timber rattlesnake’s survival was too tenuous to justify the DEC’s position. Upon the fence’s completion, the state of New York and the commissioner of the DEC (collectively, the state) (plaintiffs) sought a preliminary injunction to stop Sour Mountain’s use of the fence. After testimony from multiple experts that the snake-proof fence erected by Sour Mountain would negatively affect the migratory patterns of the snakes, limit the snakes’ foraging space, and disrupt the snakes’ movements in such a way as to threaten their safety or survival and Sour Mountain’s own admission that the fence modified the snakes’ habitat, the trial court granted the preliminary injunction. Sour Mountain appealed, arguing that the DEC had exceeded its statutory authority.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)
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