Squirrel Victorious: Judge Restores Protections of Endangered Species Act

Representing Friends of Blackwater and four other plaintiffs, we prevailed in a federal district court lawsuit to restore the protections of the Endangered Species Act to the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel.  Judge Emmet Sullivan’s opinion, rendered late Friday, returned the Squirrel to the list of endangered species and affirmed that the government must follow the recovery plans it creates for endangered and threatened species.  The ruling means that scientifically-based recovery criteria for endangered and threatened species, once adopted in a formal recovery plan, cannot be ignored due to political motivation or simple bureaucratic expediency.  Rather, if an agency believes that such recovery criteria are in need of revision (which was not established for the squirrel) then the agency must do so pursuant to the publicly and scientifically accountable process embodied in the law.  The opinion, Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar, Civ. No. 09-2122 (D.D.C. Mar. 25, 2011), is available here.