Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Barking prairie dogs: Why Denver court is entering rodent dispute

A court battle over a Utah prairie dog ruling that activists say could undermine the Endangered Species Act is set to come before a federal appeals court in Denver on Monday. U.S. Department of Justice lawyers want a federal appeals court to overturn the decision striking down protections for prairie dogs found primarily in and around the southern Utah town of Cedar City. The ruling came after residents in the town sued with help from lawyers from the Sacramento-based Pacific Legal Foundation. They said federal protections were allowing the small, burrowing animals to take over the town's golf course, airport and cemetery and even interrupt funerals with their barking. In a finding that lawyers say was the first of its kind, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson decided that the Commerce Clause doesn't allow the federal government to regulate animals found on private land in only one state. The federal government and animal rights groups contend that the ruling was a radical departure from previous court decisions, and it could weaken protections for animals all over the country because most animals listed as endangered species are only found in a single state...more

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