January 21, 2015
Last November, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) listed the Gunnison sage-grouse as “threatened”. On January 20, 2015, Western Watersheds Project and the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the USFWS arguing for endangered status for the species and protections that come with it. These groups argue that the best available scientific evidence demonstrates that the Gunnison sage-grouse is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and must be listed as endangered species.
The complaint points out that the USFWS violated the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by failing to consider best available science and give public a notice and opportunity to comment on its decision to list the species as threatened. The groups are asking the court to remand the final rule (listing the bird as threatened) to USFWS for “an adequate finding that complies with all requirements of the ESA and the APA” in the meantime retaining the threatened listing in place.
Gunnison sage-grouse population is about 5,000 found only in southwestern Colorado and southeastern Utah. The species are related to the Greater sage-grouse that is at the center of a broader debate that involves 11 western states.