The Fund for Animals, the Biodiversity
Legal Foundation, the Utah Environmental Congress, and
individual plaintiffs announced that they have reached a
settlement with the federal government in their lawsuit
challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) highly
controversial sport hunting season of rare trumpeter swans.
The trumpeter swan is the largest waterfowl species in the
world, with a wingspan of seven to eight feet. The tri-state
population of Rocky Mountain trumpeter swans is a distinct
sub-population with only about 350 remaining birds and 70
breeding pairs, and is the subject of a pending emergency
petition for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The
imperiled trumpeter swan is already listed on the FWS’s
“Birds of Management Concern” list, a registry of bird species
that “are likely to become candidates for listing under the
Endangered Species Act.”
Under a plan approved by the FWS last year, trumpeter
swans could be killed by sport hunters in Idaho, Montana,
Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, despite the widespread
scientific consensus among trumpeter swan experts that the
hunt, in combination with other threats, posed a significant
threat to the survival and recovery of the species. The
hunting of similar-looking tundra swans also continued.
According to Andrea Lococo, Rocky Mountain coordinator for
The Fund for Animals, “A sport hunting season on seriously
imperiled trumpeter swans was biologically reckless and
legally flawed. The federal government not only failed to list
the trumpeter swan as endangered or threatened due to
triage with agency funds, but then also decided to play
Russian roulette with the last remaining trumpeter swans by
allowing a sport hunting season.”
In the settlement, the FWS agreed not to authorize the
hunting of trumpeter swans in the Pacific Flyway until it has
prepared a new Environmental Assessment, which will
reconsider the biological issues of hunting trumpeter swans.
The EA will be released by April 20, and the public will have
30 days to comment.
Added Jasper Carlton, executive director of the Biodiversity
Legal Foundation, “The government’s first EA was
inadequate, and it should have never given hunters a license
to hunt a population that is clearly biologically endangered.
A new EA, and a new chance for public comments, is a
victory for trumpeter swans and for the public.”
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