| For Immediate Release: June 21, 2006
Court Rules Buena Vista Lake Shrew
Bakersfield, Calif. – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against an anti-environmental lawsuit and upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2002 decision to list the Buena Vista Lake shrew as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The unfounded lawsuit was filed on April 9, 2002 by the County of Kern, Kern County Farm Bureau, Kern County Water Agency, North Kern County Water Storage District, Coalition of Private Property Rights, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District, Semitropic Water Storage District, and the Wheeler Ridge-Maricopa Water Storage District. The Center for Biological Diversity formally intervened in the case to defend the shrew and its wetland habitat.
The Buena Vista Lake shrew is one of the planet’s most endangered mammals, found in only four locations on 575 acres scattered along a 70-mile stretch of the western edge of Kern County. Since first identified by scientists in 1932, the diminutive, insect-eating shrew has been declining because its habitat – moist soils under dense lakeside forests – has been nearly eliminated by agribusiness and development. The shrew formerly inhabited the vast acres of wetlands and riparian forests that ringed the massive Tulare, Buena Vista, Kern and Goose lakes in the southern Central Valley. Today, 95 percent of the wetlands and streamside forests in this area have been destroyed. The shrew population is threatened by water diversions, agricultural expansion, pesticide spraying, selenium poisoning and drought.
“This is an important victory for the Buena Vista Lake shrew and California’s invaluable wetlands,” said Ileene Anderson, ecologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “The anti-environmentalists never had a legitimate claim in this case and Kern County and the water agencies wasted tax dollars by getting involved. It’s too bad the County’s values are so skewed that it would rather pay thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees than support wetlands protection that benefits both wildlife and people,” Anderson added.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit, public interest conservation organization dedicated to the protection of native species and their habitats through science, policy and environmental law. Matt Kenna of the Western Environmental Law Center represented the Center for Biological Diversity in this case.