New Lawsuit Challenges Three Antelope Provision
Friends of Animals has just filed yet another lawsuit to thwart conservation of U.S. populations of scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle and addax (three antelope). This latest suit challenges the constitutionality of Section 127 of the 2014 Appropriations Act, passed by Congress and signed by the President in January. Section 127 directs the Secretary of the Interior to reissue a 2005 regulation that made it unnecessary for U.S. private owners of the three antelope species to apply for and obtain individual permits to allow the hunting of members of their herds. In 2009, a federal district court determined that the 2005 regulation violated the Endangered Species Act and directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to withdraw the rule. Section 127 provides the FWS with new statutory authority to reissue the 2005 rule.
Friends of Animals claims that Section 127 will have an effect on pending litigation and therefore violates the separation of powers between the legislative and judiciary branches of the government. SCI is currently a party in two other lawsuits concerning the three antelope species. In one of these lawsuits, SCI appealed a federal district court ruling upholding the FWS’s decision to list U.S. populations of the three antelope species as endangered. In the other suit, Friends of Animals and other groups challenged the legality of the individual permits that the FWS has issued to allow private ranchers to cull members of their herds. Both of these cases are currently on hold while the parties await the FWS’s reissuance of the 2005 regulation. SCI is currently assessing whether to join this latest lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of Section 127.