Today we filed our opening merits brief in Nevada against various federal agencies for their roles in deliberately releasing an invasive beetle species in the southwestern United States and then, when confronted with evidence that it was having unanticipated and severe effects on critical habitat of the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, simply abandoning the beetle release program without implementing any mitigation measures to ameliorate the widespread harm that has been caused, and continues to occur, to flycatcher habitat as a result of previous releases. The beetle release efforts were led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The continued spread of the beetle – which has already invaded the nesting areas of flycatchers in Nevada, southern Utah, and northern and western Arizona – is seriously threatening the flycatcher’s survival and recovery prospects, and continues to significantly and adversely modify the species’ critical habitat. The agencies’ refusal to implement any reasonable mitigation measures to offset the harm caused by the beetle release program is especially troubling considering that USDA expressly committed itself to developing and implementing appropriate mitigation measures in the event that the beetles spread into flycatcher habitat, as now has occurred in a substantial manner. The brief filed today can be found here.