ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline) – An environmental organization based in California is challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision not to list the Pacific walrus as a threatened or endangered species.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a complaint on March 8 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska against Ryan Zinke, as the secretary of U.S. Department of Interior; James Kurth, acting director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service citing the Endangered Species Act.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that following its petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2011 to list the walrus as threatened or endangered, "the Service has now made a complete reversal, determining that listing the Pacific walrus as threatened or endangered is 'not warranted."
The plaintiff alleges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service failed to adequately explain why it changed its previous decision that determined the walrus warranted ESA protection.
The plaintiff holds the defendants responsible because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision allegedly "is not based on the best available scientific data" and its "findings and conclusions also flatly contradict or inaccurately represent the available scientific date and are unsubstantiated," the suit states.
The plaintiff seeks an order for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider the listing of the Pacific walrus under the ESA, award of costs of litigation, attorneys' fees and grant such other relief as the court deems just and proper. It is represented by Kassia Siegel, Kristen Monsell and Emily Jeffers of the Center for Biological Diversity in Oakland, California.
U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska case number 3:18-cv-00064-SLG