Petition to Delist California Gnatcatcher Filed

by Nossaman LLP
Contact

Citing new genetic evidence that the coastal California gnatcatcher is not a distinct subspecies as previously claimed, but is part of a single, healthy and abundant species that ranges from Southern California to the southern tip of Baja, Mexico, the National Association of Home Builders and several other parties filed a petition to remove the coastal California gnatcatcher from the list of threatened species.  The petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is based on a peer-reviewed study of gnatcatcher DNA by Dr. Robert Zink of the University of Minnesota and several other scientists. 

The study, published in the ornithological journal The Auk confirms prior published genetic studies of gnatcatcher DNA by Dr. Zink and other nationally-recognized scientists.  The new study concludes that gnatcatchers in California are not genetically distinct from the abundant populations of gnatcatchers south of the border.  The new DNA evidence is the information that the Fish and Wildlife Service previously suggested would warrant removing the gnatcatcher from the ESA list. 

The gnatcatcher is a common blue-gray bird in Mexico and southern California.  The Fish and Wildlife Service listed the gnatcatchers in 1993 as a threatened “subspecies” whose range is limited to southern California and northern Baja, Mexico.  The listing triggered a firestorm of controversy and led to restrictions on land use across southern California.  Approximately 197,303 acres in San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Ventura Counties have been designated as critical habitat for the coastal California gnatcatcher.  Federal officials estimate that the economic impact of these restrictions will total more $900 million by year 2025.

At the time of the listing, several scientists testified that genetic studies should be conducted to determine whether the gnatcatcher qualified as a subspecies.  The Service disclaimed the need for genetic studies and instead relied on measurements of physical characteristics such as the degree of brightness of feathers to conclude that the gnatcatchers in southern California were distinct from the abundant populations in Mexico.  In 1994, the District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the gnatcatcher listing because the Service failed to disclose information relied upon in the listing.  Endangered Species Committee v. Babbitt, 852 F.Supp.32 (D.D.C. 1994). The Service relisted the gnatcatcher in 1995.

In 2000, the Journal of Conservation Biology published a study of gnatcatcher mitochondrial DNA by Dr. Zink and Dr. Jonathan Atwood (the petitioner for the listing).  The study concluded that there is no distinct subspecies of gnatcatcher.  Citing the need for analysis of nuclear DNA in addition to mitochondrial DNA in 2010 the Service denied a petition to de-list the gnatcatcher.

The new petition analyzes the nuclear DNA of gnatcatchers throughout its range.  The Zink et. al. study confirms that the California gnatcatcher is not a separate subspecies and does not exhibit ecological distinctiveness. 

Nossaman LLP and the Pacific Legal Foundation filed the petition.  Nossaman represents the National Association of Home Builders and the California Building Industry Association in the petition proceeding.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Nossaman LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Nossaman LLP
Contact
more
less

Nossaman LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.