Home Builders v. Norton: The Role of International Boundaries under the Endangered Species act

Fenton, Benjamin
August 2005
Ecology Law Quarterly;2005, Vol. 32 Issue 3, p575
Academic Journal
In Home Builders v. Norton the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) argued that the Arizona pygmy-owl should be listed endangered as a distinct population segment simply because it is the taxon's sole remaining domestic population. Ruling against the FWS, the Ninth Circuit held that based upon the FWS policy a population of a species can not be listed as endangered simply because it is found within the United States. The court explained that international boundaries can be considered in the first prong of the policy recognizing distinct population segments but not in the second prong of that policy -- the "significance" prong. While the Ninth Circuit's interpretation of the FWS policy was correct, the case highlights one of the policy's flaws. As it stands it does not accord sufficient weight to domestic populations of species. International boundaries should be considered beyond the first prong of the DPS policy if the domestic population of a species is endangered. In some circumstances an endangered domestic population should be listed primarily because it is domestic.


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