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Delisting the Grizzly: Perspectives of the Greater Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Litigation from Administrative, Animal, and Federal Indian Law

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 92 minutes
Recorded Date: February 21, 2018
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1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
  • Delisting the Grizzly
  • Of Grizzlies, Wolves and the USFWS
  • Tribal Consultation
  • Questions & Answers
Runtime: 1 hour and 32 minutes
Recorded: February 21, 2018


Join our experts as they examine the recent de-listing of the grizzly bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act from administrative law, environmental law, animal law, and Indian law perspectives.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) designated the grizzly bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1975. FWS declared a rebound in the Yellowstone National Park grizzly population and, on June 30, 2017, published a Final Rule concurrently categorizing the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) Grizzly Bear as a distinct population segment (DPS), and de-listing this GYE Grizzly Bear DPS. GYE Grizzly Bears are now no longer protected by the ESA and can be subject to game hunting outside national parks.

Response by environmental NGOs, animal protection groups, and tribal nations and organizations was swift. The plaintiffs' complaints allege violations under the ESA, Administrative Procedure Act, and Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Arguments range from improper threats analysis and arbitrary and capricious agency decision-making to the federal government's failure to consult meaningfully with sovereign Native American tribes. In December 17, 2017, FWS further complicated the debate with its surprising move to reopen public comment.

This issue cuts across multiple practice areas—administrative law, environmental law, animal law, and the federal government's unique trust responsibility to Indian tribes. The ultimate outcome will also establish the precedential import of the western Great Lakes Gray Wolf DPS case (Humane Soc'y of the United States v. Zinke, 865 F.3d 585 (D.C. Cir. 2017).

This program was recorded on February 21st, 2018.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Peter J. Breuer

Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan LLP

Peter Breuer joined the Firm in 2012 and focuses his practice in the areas of Business Litigation and Tribal Housing. Mr. Breuer regularly provides legal advice and guidance to tribal housing authorities of various sizes on issues ranging from employment law to NAHASDA compliance. Mr. Breuer has a wealth of experience with the requirements of both TERO ordinances and the procurement regulations of NAHASDA, Davis-Bacon, and other applicable federal laws. Due to his daily work with housing authorities Mr. Breuer is intimately familiar with the regulations, procedures, and requirements of NAHASDA and applicable HUD regulations. Mr. Breuer has also drafted, finalized, and implemented internal policies for housing authorities for procurement, NAHASDA compliant investment, and home management.

Mr. Breuer practices before multiple federal courts for litigation concerning HUD's unlawful recapture of NAHASDA funds from a number of tribal housing authorities. John Fredericks III and Mr. Breuer were able to secure a $6,000,000 judgment in favor of the tribal housing authorities in Blackfeet et al. v. HUD, 1:07-cv-01343-RPM. Mr. Breuer maintains an active practice before tribal courts for housing authorities for a multitude of actions including eviction and civil defense. Mr. Breuer recently defeated a claim by a former contractor of Fort Peck Housing Authority for payment upon non-existent or fraudulent contracts in Gourneau v. FPHA, Appeal No. 666 (FPTCA 2015). Finally, Mr. Breuer is able to assist housing authorities in negotiations with contractors of various sizes for the repair, construction, or maintenance of housing projects.

With a practice that also includes business litigation before both state and tribal courts, Mr. Breuer has successfully obtained six figure judgments in favor of his clients and defeated claims ranging from breach of contract to unjust enrichments. From initiating litigation to defending difficult claims Mr. Breuer stands ready to assist businesses or individuals with their difficult legal situations.

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Ralph Henry

Director of Litigation
The Humane Society of the United States

Ralph Henry is the Deputy Director of Animal Protection Litigation at the Humane Society of the United States, where he oversees the organization’s wildlife litigation docket. His caseload includes work to protect threatened and endangered species, marine mammals, animals trapped and farmed for their fur, and captive exotic wildlife. Ralph is an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law where he teaches a course on animal law and policy. Ralph graduated with distinction from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he was managing editor of the Georgetown International Environmental Law Review and president of a chapter of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund. Prior to practicing law, Ralph was trained as a biologist and studied the physiological bases of animal behavior.

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Kelly E. Nokes

Staff Attorney
WildEarth Guardians

Kelly Nokes joined WildEarth Guardians as Carnivore Advocate in June 2015 and became Guardians' Transparency Staff Attorney in September 2017. She holds a J.D. and Masters of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School and a B.S. in Environmental Conservation and Outdoor Recreation Leadership & Management from Northern Michigan University. She is a barred attorney in the State of Montana. Kelly has been an active advocate for wild creatures and wild places throughout her career. She previously served as a legal intern with Western Environmental Law Center and Trustees for Alaska and came to the Guardians with a strong background in environmental education and program administration from her prior work with Columbia Riverkeeper and the Columbia Gorge Ecology Institute. An avid mountain biker and trail runner, Kelly can often be found on the trails exploring Montana's beautiful mountain landscape when not in the office.

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