FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 25, 2004
CONTACT: Corrie Bosman, Center for Biological Diversity, (907) 747-1463
Court strikes down USFWS decision to not list the Queen Charlotte Goshawk under the Endangered Species Act
Sitka, AK- In a long awaited legal ruling, the D.C. District Court yesterday issued new hope in the longtime effort to save the Queen Charlotte goshawk from extinction at the hands of the U.S. and Canadian timber industry. Though the species has lost millions of acres of its old growth forest habitat, and will lose more under government logging plans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruled in 1997 that the species is not yet endangered. The court struck down this decision, ordering the agency to assess whether the areas of past and planned logging constitute a significant portion of the species total range. Though the Endangered Species Act clearly requires such an analysis, the Fish and Wildlife Service purposefully avoided it because the goshawk is clearly endangered in over two-thirds of its range.
The goshawk lives in rainforests from Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, along the British Columbia coast to the Olympic Peninsula. Roughly half of the goshawk's range is located in the 37.3 million acres of coastal British Columbia. The court found that the Wildlife Service failed to make a determination whether Vancouver Island, British Columbia is a "significant portion" of the goshawk’s range, and failed to assess whether the goshawk is threatened or endangered on Vancouver Island. "Clearly, the Service can not properly access whether the goshawk is threatened or endangered throughout its range if it ignores a significant portion of that range in its analysis." stated Corrie Bosman, Alaska Program Coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity. "We are glad the court agreed with us that the Service’s actions were illegal," added Bosman.
The court remanded the decision back to the wildlife agency to correct its deficiencies. "In order for the Fish and Wildlife Service to do things right this time they will need to not only look at Vancouver Island issue, but need to start over and look at all the logging currently threatening the Queen Charlotte goshawk," stated Bosman, "You can not make a determination on the future viability of a species by looking only at pieces of the puzzle." Bosman added, "When all the information is viewed as a whole, it is clear that this species warrants Endangered Species Act protection."While the court did not provide a timeline for the Wildlife Service to complete its new review, the conservation community hopes things will move quickly. Don Muller, one of the signatories to the original 1994 ESA listing petition was also pleased with today’s announcement. "We have been working to get the Queen Charlotte goshawk protected for more than ten years now," stated Muller. "It is shameful it is taking so long to give the goshawk the protection it clearly needs."
In 1994, due to concerns over large-scale habitat loss, the Center for Biological Diversity, several other conservation groups and several concerned Alaskans, filed a formal petition to list the Queen Charlotte goshawk as an endangered or threatened species under the ESA. "The Queen Charlotte goshawk has a strong preference for productive old-growth forests where they nest and hunt for prey," stated Page Else of the Sitka Conservation Society, one of the plaintiff’s in this case. "In recent years the Tongass has come under a full scale attack by the Bush Administration’s extreme agenda. We are seeing the productive old-growth forests of the Tongass being sold off for pennies, while the goshawk and other wildlife are put at risk," added Else.