Alliance for the Wild Rockies v. USDA

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Environmental Law
  • Date Filed: 11-20-2014
  • Case #: No. 13-35352
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judges Berzon and Schroeder
  • Full Text Opinion

Approval of a management plan is sufficient to establish causation and redressability.

Wild bison and grizzly bears inhabit areas within the Greater Yellowstone Area. The Yellowstone grizzly bear is a threatened species listed in the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). According to a 2000 interagency document entitled the Interagency Bison Management Plan (“Management Plan”), wild bison are contained using helicopters in order to reduce brucellosis transfer to domestic cattle. Alliance for the Wild Rockies (“Alliance”) provided 60-day notice of its intent to sue under the ESA and one week later, Alliance filed an Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) complaint alleging the helicopter hazing under the Management Plan harasses the Yellowstone grizzly bear. After 60 days, Alliance amended its complaint adding ESA claims. The parties filed motions for summary judgment and the district court granted the federal defendants’ motions, holding Alliance lacked standing to bring its claims because the Management Plan had not been enacted. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the standing requirements of causation and redressability where met because the Management Plan was developed and approved by the federal defendants. The panel explained, a defendant need not fund or carrying out the plan to have caused an injury. Here, the federal defendant’s approval of the plan establishes a connection to the injury and their discontinued use of the plan could repair it. AFFIRMED in part and REVERSED in part.

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