United States District Court, District of Columbia
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
John J. Jackson, III, Conservation Force, Metairie, LA, for Plaintiffs.
Bradley Howard Oliphant, U.S. Department of Justice, Denver, CO, for Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND OPINION ON CROSS MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
BARBARA JACOBS ROTHSTEIN, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed their motion on May 17, 2012 (Dkt. No. 36, " Pls.' Mot." ) and Defendants filed a Combined Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on June 14, 2012 (Dkt. No. 40, " Defs.' Mot." ). Plaintiffs' filed a Combined Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment and Reply in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on August 1, 2012. (Dkt. No. 44, " Pls.' Reply." ). Defendants filed their reply thereto on August 31, 2012. (Dkt. No. 48, " Defs.' Reply." ). Both parties filed notices of supplemental authority. (Dkt. Nos. 47 and 51.). Having considered the parties' arguments, pleadings, and relevant case law, the Court finds and rules as follows:
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Defendants Ken Salazar, Secretary of the United States Department of Interior, Daniel M. Ashe, Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (collectively, the " Service" or " Defendants" ), move this Court, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 for summary judgment regarding the Service's denial of the Plaintiffs' import permit applications. Likewise, Plaintiffs, Conservation Force, Steve Hornady, Barbara Lee Sackman, Alan Sackman, Jerry Brenner, Dallas Safari Club, Houston Safari Club, African Safari Club of Florida, Inc., The Conklin Foundation, Grand Slam Club/Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, Sardar Naseer A. Tareen, and the Society for Torghar Environmental Protection, (collectively, " Plaintiffs" ), also move for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule 56. (Second Amended Complaint (" SAC" ), Dkt. No. 43 at ¶¶ 11-23.).
Plaintiffs are sport-hunters who are willing to pay large sums of money for the right to hunt and kill the straight-horned
markhor, a species of wild goat found in small, isolated populations in the mountains of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. (SAC at ¶ 48.) The straight-horned markhor is listed as " endangered" under the Endangered Species Act (the " ESA" ). ( Id. at ¶¶ 48-49.). Plaintiffs claim that hunting markhor goats actually contributes to the conservation of the species. ( Id. at ¶¶ 50-52.). According to Plaintiffs, the fact that some sport-hunters are willing to pay fees for the right to hunt the goats has caused local tribal chieftains to place a ban on all unauthorized hunting of the goats by locals, presumably to ensure the stabilization of the species' population so that the chieftains may collect tourist hunting fees. ( Id. at ¶¶ 51-52.). Plaintiffs allege that the goat population has increased significantly as a result of the hunting ban. ( Id. at ¶¶ 50-51, 56.).
Nevertheless, the markhor remains on the endangered species list, and, as such, the hunters are prohibited from importing their " trophies" into the United States. ( Id. at ¶¶ 48-49, 106.). Plaintiffs assert that their inability to import the goat carcasses has artificially deflated the revenues derived from the sport-hunting because " Americans are unwilling ...