This week, we filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife, which seeks to reinstate Endangered Species Act protections for the pygmy owl – a species that was previously listed as endangered under the Act from 1997 to 2006. In 2011, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found, in response to a petition by the conservation groups, that the pygmy owl is in fact threatened in its Sonoran Desert region but nevertheless declined to afford any protections to the species based on the agency’s conclusion that this portion of the range is not vital to the overall survival of the species – a far more restrictive interpretation of the agency’s statutory listing authority than the Service has previously employed. This new interpretation stems from a draft policy that the Service released for public comment several months after the pygmy owl decision, that was strenuously opposed by conservation groups and the scientific community, and that the Service has yet to finalize. The complaint can be found here and the press release can be found here.