SCI Provides Winning Arguments Against Constitutional Challenge to Three Antelope Rule
Safari Club International played a pivotal role in a federal district court’s ruling that dismissed a constitutional challenge to the law that exempts the hunting of U.S. captive members of three exotic antelope species from permit and other Endangered Species Act requirements. Based in great part on SCI’s arguments that the anti-hunting plaintiffs lacked standing to raise their constitutional claims, the D.C. federal district court dismissed the case on March 4, 2015.
Last year, Congress passed Section 127 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014. That section directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate regulations that had exempted U.S. captive herds of the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle, and addax from certain prohibitions and restrictions that are generally applicable to endangered species. The FWS first adopted those regulations when it listed the three species as endangered in 2005. Anti-hunting groups succeeded in persuading a court to order the FWS to withdraw those regulations. When Congress stepped in and adopted legislation that directed the FWS to reinstate the regulatory exemptions, the anti-hunting groups went back to court to challenge the constitutionality of the law. SCI intervened in the case to defend the law. SCI heavily stressed that the anti-hunting plaintiffs lacked standing to assert the constitutional challenges and offered some arguments not presented by the federal government. In its ruling, the D.C. federal district court relied, in great part, on SCI’s arguments and dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims.
Although the court’s ruling focused primarily on the plaintiffs’ lack of standing to raise their constitutional challenges, the court also made clear that Section 127 was constitutional and did not violate the Endangered Species Act.
For those who own U.S. captive herds of one or more of the three antelope species or who wish to hunt an antelope from one of these herds, nothing has changed. The regulation that Congress directed the FWS to reinstate has remained in effect during the litigation. It can be found at 50 C.F.R. §17.21.
The unsuccessful plaintiffs must now decide whether they will appeal the ruling. That decision must be made within 60 days of the final ruling. SCI will keep you apprised of any developments in this matter.