Friends of Animals v. USFWS, No. 15-35639 (9th Cir. 2018)Annotate this Case
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), 16 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., did not limit the United States government from issuing a permit to remove birds of one species for scientific purposes if its intent was principally to benefit another species. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the Service in an action challenging a permit allowing the taking of the barred owl. The panel held that the MBTA imposed few substantive conditions itself and delegated to the Secretary of the Interior broad discretion to implement the Act, discretion the Secretary has used to promulgate the regulation at issue that has no text directly supporting Friends' proposed same-species theory. The panel held that the "used for scientific purposes" exception in Article II(A) of the Mexico Convention included taking birds to study whether their absence benefits another protected bird species; even if the canon of noscitur a sociis applied in this case, the panel did not believe that it supported plaintiff's same-species theory; and the Canada, Japan, and Russia Conventions did not support the same-species theory.