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For Immediate Release, October 31, 2012

Contact:   Dr. Robin Silver, Center for Biological Diversity, (602) 799-3275
Mark Larson, Maricopa Audubon Society, (480) 310-3261

 Suit Filed, Once Again, to Protect Southwest's Desert Nesting Bald Eagles

PHOENIX— The Center for Biological Diversity and Maricopa Audubon Society today returned to U.S. District Court in Phoenix for the third time to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to provide Endangered Species Act protection for the Southwest’s desert nesting bald eagles. Fish and Wildlife administrators have opposed protecting desert nesting bald eagles since Oct. 6, 2004, when the Center and Maricopa Audubon petitioned to protect this isolated, distinctive population as endangered.

“Judges have ordered Fish and Wildlife Service back to the drawing board twice already. This time, we’ll count on the agency to make its decision based on science instead of politics,” said Dr. Robin Silver of the Center.

The latest lawsuit challenges Fish and Wildlife’s most recent refusal to recognize the fact that for three decades scientists have acknowledged that desert bald eagles constitute an isolated population, adapted to a unique, hot and dry environment, that is important to the conservation of bald eagles as a species. Fish and Wildlife administrators have issued “marching orders” to subordinates against protection for the desert-dwelling eagles; the agency has even created new standards, outside the legal rulemaking process, that make it much more difficult for the eagle to qualify for protection.

Fewer than 60 breeding pairs of this unique and isolated eagle population survive. 

“Our unique and isolated bald eagle population faces increasing habitat threats while being nearly completely dependent on the intensive human protection efforts of the NestWatch program. It is unconscionable that Fish and Wildlife Service refuses to provide Endangered Species Act protection,” says Mark Larson, Maricopa Audubon president. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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