MGC Is Instrumental In Convincing Fish and Wildlife Service To Propose Upgrading Captive Chimpanzees To “Endangered” Under The Endangered Species Act

In what could be the culmination of a long effort by our firm to help eliminate the dual listing for chimpanzees under the Endangered Species Act, by which chimpanzees in the wild are considered “endangered,” but chimpanzees in captivity receive no protections under the statute, today the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to upgrade the listing of captive chimpanzees to “endangered” as well.  The announcement came in response to a petition filed by the firm on behalf of a coalition of animal protection and conservation groups (HSUS and Humane Society International, the National Anti-Vivisection Society, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance), the Jane Goodall Institute, and the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums.   The firm has been working on this issue since the mid-1990s.  The FWS has finally recognized that there is no legal basis under the ESA for distinguishing between the captive members of a species and the wild members – if finalized, the new rule will mean that anyone wishing to “take” a chimpanzee in this country – including kill, harm, harass, wound, or injure in  any way – will have to apply for a special permit to do so under the ESA and demonstrate that such activities are needed to “enhance the propagation or survival” of the species in the wild.  For years, because of the dual listing scheme – which denied captive chimpanzees the basic protections of the ESA – chimpanzees have been widely exploited in commercials, the entertainment industry and the biomedical research industry.  Finalizing the proposed rule should help put an end to such practices.   The proposed rule can be found here