Current Litigation

SCI is currently involved or has recently been involved in the following cases:

  • Elephant Importation Bans Challenge (SCI v. Jewell ) – Challenge to the FWS’s decisions to suspend the importation of sport-hunted elephant trophies from Zimbabwe in 2014 and 2015 and from Tanzania in 2014. Status: At the court’s recommendation, the parties consolidated the briefing of the 2014 and 2015 Zimbabwe cases. We will file our opening brief on summary judgment in the consolidated cases on February 18, 2016. We appealed the Court’s decision to dismiss our claims regarding the 2014 Tanzania importation ban and filed our opening brief in the appeal in late January.

SCI also sued to challenge the FWS’s failure to respond to SCI’s request for documents pertaining to the July 2014 decision to ban the importation of elephants from Zimbabwe. Status: After SCI filed suit, the FWS responded by providing all relevant documents. We settled our claim for attorneys’ fees for $8,900 and will contribute that amount to the Dande Anti-Poaching Unit in Zimbabwe.

  • California’s Ban on Importation of Mountain Lion Trophies (SCI v. Harris) – Challenge to the constitutionality of a California law that bans individuals from importing or possessing trophies of mountain lions hunted outside of California. SCI claims that the California law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce and Equal Protection Clauses. Status: For the second time, the State moved to dismiss SCI’s complaint and the Court granted the motion. Instead of amending our complaint again, SCI has chosen to appeal the dismissal to the Ninth Circuit.
  • Wyoming Wolf Delisting Challenges (Defenders of Wildlife v. Jewell; HSUS v. U.S. FWS) – Defense of delisting and hunting of Wyoming portion of the northern Rocky Mountain wolf population in D.C. federal court. SCI is a defendant-intervenor. Status: D.C. district court invalidated the rule and returned Wyoming wolves to endangered status. All parties have appealed the court’s decision. Briefing is ongoing.
  • Western Great Lakes Wolf Delisting Challenge (HSUS v. Jewell) Defense of delisting and hunting of WGL wolf population. SCI, NRA, USSAF and several other organizations intervened. Status: The district court vacated the delisting and placed the WGL wolves back on the endangered species list. All defendants and defendant-intervenors appealed the decision. After a failed attempt to mediate the appeal, briefing started late last year and is ongoing.
  • Three Antelope Cases (FoA v. Jewell et al.) – In the 2014 Appropriations Law, Congress directed the FWS to reissue a 2005 permit exemption rule regarding the hunting of three antelope species on ranches in the United States. After the FWS reissued the rule, FoA filed suit to challenge the constitutionality of Congress’s action and the rule. SCI joined as a defendant-intervenor. Status: The district court denied FoA’s summary judgment motion, and FoA appealed to the D.C. Circuit. Briefing has been completed and oral argument is scheduled for late February. (SCI v. Jewell et al.) – SCI challenged the FWS’s classification of U.S. captive populations as endangered. Status: Court upheld the legality of the listing. SCI appealed the ruling to the D.C. circuit court. Appeal has been stayed on SCI’s request, pending the appellate court ruling on the constitutional challenge. (FoA v. Ashe et al.) – FoA challenged permit process for culling members of captive herds of the three antelope. SCI is a defendant-intervenor in the case. Status: Briefing has been stayed, also pending the outcome of the appeal in the constitutional challenge.
  • Big Cypress ORV/Wilderness Plan (NPCA et al. v. DOI et al.) Defense of National Preserve (Addition Lands) Management Plan facilitating hunting and ORV use. SCI intervened in case to defend plan. Status: After extensive briefing and an all-day hearing, the Florida federal district court ruled in the NPS and SCI’s favor and upheld the plan. The case is now on appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Briefing has been completed.
  • Lead Ammunition in Kaibab National Forest (CBD v. U.S. Forest Service) – Defense against attempt to ban lead ammunition use in Kaibab National Forest. Status: district court granted a motion to dismiss filed by the federal government. CBD appealed decision to Ninth Circuit. After a year-long delay, the appellate court overturned the district court and remanded to proceed on the merits. SCI will attempt to intervene in the case.
  • Grand Teton National Park Elk Hunt (Mayo v. Jarvis; Sierra Club v. Jewell) – Two photographers challenged the elk management program administered on Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. In a separate case, Sierra Club challenged the FWS’s approval of the hunt. SCI is participating as a defendant-intervenor in both cases. Status: Briefing was completed in late 2015. The court has yet to schedule oral argument.
  • NPS Regulations in Alaska (Sturgeon v. Masica) – SCI member, John Sturgeon, challenged the NPS’s authority to regulate activities on non-federal waters in Alaska. An Alaska district court and the Ninth Circuit upheld the NPS’s exercise of authority. Sturgeon petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his case. Status: SCI filed an amicus brief in support of Sturgeon’s petition to demonstrate the broader impact of the lower courts’ ruling on resident and non-resident hunters in Alaska. The Supreme Court accepted review of the case and held oral argument in late January. SCI filed a second amicus brief in support of Mr. Sturgeon.
  • Revisions to the Mexican Wolf Experimental Population Rule – In January 2015, the FWS finalized revisions to the regulations concerning the management of the Mexican wolf nonessential experimental population. The regulations increase the number of wolves to be recovered and expand the area into which they will be released and allowed to range. Status: SCI filed suit in New Mexico and have been joined by two New Mexico chapters. FWS moved to transfer the case to Arizona. We are awaiting a decision on that motion.
  • Lesser Prairie-Chicken Listing – Various states and entities have filed six lawsuits concerning the listing of the LPC and/or the ESA multispecies settlements that led to the species’ listing. After lengthy procedural debate, three cases are in federal court in DC, two cases are in federal court in Oklahoma, and one case is in court in Texas. Status: The Texas court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and set aside the LPC listing. The cases in D.C. continue. SCI attempted to file an amicus brief but the judge denied our request to participate.
  • McKittrick Policy (WildEarth Guardians v. DOJ) – In 2013, WildEarth Guardians sued to challenge the Department of Justice’s policy not to prosecute individuals who accidentally shoot ESA listed species. Plaintiffs claim that the policy jeopardizes Mexican wolf recovery. Status: The Arizona federal district court denied the DOJ’s motion to dismiss the case. SCI filed a motion to intervene shortly before DOJ and WEG entered into settlement negotiations. The case is stayed until those negotiations conclude.
  • Florida Black Bear Hunt (Speak Up Wekiva v. Wiley) – Florida group filed suit to challenge Florida’s authorization of a black bear hunt. The group filed an emergency request to halt the hunt. SCI participated in the briefing and attended a hearing. Status: The Court denied the group’s request and allowed the hunt to move forward. The state held the hunt. The case continues and SCI will continue to stay involved.
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