A rejected lawsuit aimed at stopping a federal program designed to terminate predators that kill livestock will see new life after the wildlife conservation group behind the claim appealed to the U.S. District Court decision that saw the case thrown out. The suit has attracted support from at least one Department of Wildlife official.
The plaintiff, WildEarth Guardians, alleges that the USDA program is based on outdated environmental and scientific information and is too taxing on the state's resources. The program spent approximately $127 million in 2010 in order to kill cougars, coyotes and other area livestock. The judge who rejected the initial lawsuit asserted that shutting down the federal program would not address the conservationists concerns about the welfare of local wildlife as state officials currently conduct most of the terminations.
However, the plaintiff continues to argue that the program is illegal and requires the state to commit too many employees to the killings. A representative with the state Department of Wildlife agreed that his agency lacks the manpower needed to continue the program. The lawsuit demands that the program be suspended immediately until the USDA conducts more extensive, up-to-date research on the program's environmental impact.
A USDA attorney compared the civil litigation to a 2010 Oregon lawsuit. In that case, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife would exterminate cougars threatening goat populations and other livestock in the state if federal agencies failed to do so. The attorney explained that state officials in the current case have likewise pledged to continue protecting livestock from predators regardless of federal help, an assertion seconded by the District Court judge who issued the original ruling. She explained that the plaintiff has no access to a "relief that would redress their alleged injury."
The appeals system is important because it allows litigants like WildEarth Guardians to seek official reconsideration of their legal claims, even when those claims are summarily rejected.
The Modesto Bee, "9th Circuit asked to stop USDA predator killings" Scott Sonner, Oct. 04, 2013