Texas General Land Office sues US government to remove native birds from endangered species list

On Wednesday, the Texas State General Land Office (TXGLO) filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Texas against the US Department of the Interior, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Southwest Regional Director Fish and Wildlife Service. for allegedly violating the Endangered Species Act by failing to remove the Golden-cheeked Warbler from the endangered species list.

TXGLO is a state agency responsible for selling public school land and leasing mineral rights to fund the Permanent Schools Fund, according to the complaint. They filed a 90-day petition on June 29, 2015 to remove the warbler from the endangered species list, removing protections on its habitat, as they found the population was 19 times greater than expected. , their habitat was much larger than previously believed and that “many conservation plans and mechanisms exist for the Warbler, so the likelihood of its extinction within the next 100 years is low”.

About a year later, the complaint explains, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a 90-day ruling denying the plaintiffs’ motion, saying there was “continued and widespread destruction of [Warbler] habitat.” This decision was ultimately overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which stated that “[t]he Service recited [the correct] standard, but a careful examination of his analysis shows that the Service applied an unduly reinforced one.

On July 27, 2021, the Service issued a new 90-day finding arguing in favor of keeping the warbler on the endangered species list; however, the defendants reportedly did not include any “new data or study results” necessary to make their case. The complainants claimed that the Service acted arbitrarily and capriciously in issuing a new 90-day finding without considering the complainants’ findings and producing no new data. TXGLO believes that the lack of new evidence proves that the warbler should not be on the endangered species list.

TXGLO is seeking declaratory relief and an injunction to reverse the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s new 90-day finding and declaration that their actions were arbitrary and capricious, attorneys’ fees and costs, and other relief.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Gregory M. Roy