MAPC Lawsuit Sets Legal Precedents for Defending Hunter’s Rights
Although the case is still pending and a final ruling is yet to be issued, NRA’s intervention on behalf of its members in the case Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., has already resulted in several legal victories.
CBD’s lawsuit, filed on January 27, 2009, alleges that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are illegally mismanaging federal lands in Arizona. CBD contends California condors in Arizona and elsewhere are becoming ill or dying as a result of scavenging game that was shot by hunters using lead shot or bullets. NRA has collected thousands of documents via public records act requests over the last year. Many of these documents raise doubts about the veracity of that calim. In fact, many documents obtained by NRA indicate that claim is based on faulty science, and plainly show that California condors were reintroduced to Arizona based in large part on express promises by FWS and other agencies that the “reintroduction” would not impact hunting.
A January 13, 2010 court ruling granting NRA’s motion intervene was recently published in the official Federal Rules Decision Reporter. The Federal Rules Decisions Reporter is a compendium of selected United States District Court rulings that specifically interpret and apply the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure. Publication of this court ruling is important to hunters and NRA members because it sets legal precedent and confirms that there is “significantly protectable interest” in hunting that can justify intervention by hunter’s rights groups like NRA in the increasing number of lawsuits filed by so-called environmental groups against state and federal natural resource, game and land management agencies. Groups like the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) often file lawsuits alleging improper regulatory action or inaction in managing public lands and natural resources in attempting to advance their anti-hunting agenda.
The publication of the decision followed an earlier NRA partial victory in this case; NRA’s legal arguments caused the CBD to abandon and dismiss its California condor related Endangered Species Act (ESA) claims rather than litigate them against NRA. CBD’s ESA claims were based in part on an incorrect belief that “any take of [California] condors from the use of lead ammunition would be a per se violation of the ESA.” CBD’s revised its lawsuit and dropped the ESA claims that CBD was primarily using as part of an attempt to obtain a ban on the use of lead ammunition for hunting on these federal lands at issue.
On December 10, 2010, NRA filed its “summary judgment” brief. Several other briefs have also been filed, and all remaining briefs will be filed by the end of February 2011. A hearing date will be set after the court receives all of the briefs. Because NRA intervened in the case on a narrow issue regarding the use of lead ammunition in northern Arizona (and the case has many other elements), it is possible the lead ammunition related aspect of this case may be resolved as early as this spring.
To see key documents filed in this case, visit http://michellawyers.com/cbdvblm.