Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes
CEDAR CITY — In April 2018, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its 10-year General Conservation Plan for managing the threatened Utah prairie dog in residential and commercial development areas.
Animal-advocacy nonprofit Friends of Animals filed a lawsuit against the federal agency just a few months later, challenging the new plan and the permits it established for killing or translocating prairie dogs on private and state lands.
"Some of our major concerns with this new plan are that it doesn't offset the amount of prairie dogs that are going to be taken, it's extremely short sighted and it doesn't provide specific habitat that needs to be protected," said Jennifer Best, assistant legal director with the Friends of Animals Wildlife Law Program.
In the most recent development of the legal dispute, the U.S. District Court denied a motion by the State of Utah, Iron County and Garfield County to weigh in as amici curiae (legal Latin for "friends of the court").
The amicus brief filed by state and county officials would have allowed them to offer argument on funding for prairie dog protections and management practices on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On Sept. 28, District Judge David Nuffer ultimately decided that the brief was untimely, prejudicial and of little use.
Friends of Animals celebrated the court's ruling, calling it a "modest win in an ongoing battle" and an important reminder of the numerous species facing extinction, according to a press release.