Survivors of Farallon de Medinilla shelling get a break–& wise-users get judicial blast
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 2002:
WASHINGTON D.C.– Judge Emmit Sullivan of the U.S. District
Court for the D.C. Circuit on March 13 ruled that the U.S. Navy and
Department of Defense are violating the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty
Act by using the island of Farallon de Medinilla in the northern
Marianas for bombing and gunnery practice.
The island is nesting habitat for at least two dozen
protected bird species, including great frigatebirds, masked
boobies, and endangered Micronesian megapodes. Admitting that birds
are often killed, the Navy applied for an incidental take permit from
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1996. The Fish and Wildlife
Service refused to issue the permit. Then the Navy claimed no permit
Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special investigator
Carroll Cox drew attention to the plight of the birds of Faralllon de
Medinilla with a March 1997 ANIMAL PEOPLE guest column.
The Center for Biological Diversity and EarthJustice filed
suit seeking to stop the bombing and strafing in January 2001.
The Washington Legal Found-ation, which has close ties to
the White House and Republican leaders in Congress, argued in a
brief submitted in support of the Navy that the plaintiffs should
support the bombing and strafing instead of opposing it, because it
maintains the scarcity of rare bird species whom birdwatchers compete
“There is absolutely no support in the law,” responded
Sullivan, ” for the view that environmentalists should enjoy the
destruction of natural resources because that destruction makes the
remaining resources more scarce and therefore more valuable. The
court hopes that the federal government will refrain from making or
adopting such frivolous arguments in the future.”
The remedy phase of the case is to be heard on April 30.
Having lost the argument that it may ignore the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act, the Navy must now respond to the plaintiffs’ motion seeking an
injunction to halt or at least limit actions that kill birds.