Court Victory for Waterfowl
Decision Allows Predator Control for the Protection of Endangered Species and Migratory Birds to Continue on Federal Lands in California

The California Waterfowl Association and the National Audubon Society have announced an important victory in the fight to conserve California’s wildlife. A final ruling has been issued by the United States District Court, Northern District of California, that preserves the federal government's ability to control introduced species that prey upon threatened and endangered species and waterfowl in California.

"This decision was a vitally important one," said Dan Taylor, Executive Director of National Audubon of California. "Audubon had only one goal; to make sure that California's most imperiled birds and wildlife do not become extinct."

According to Bill Gaines, Director of Government Affairs for California Waterfowl Association, the decision sends an important message. “As California rapidly makes the transition from a rural to an urban state, the public is losing touch with our wildlife species, their habitat, and their management. We are seeing a corresponding increase in those who wish to make policy decisions relating to wildlife based on emotion rather than science. This court decision reconfirms that wildlife policy must be based firmly on the best available science,” said Gaines. “Recent studies clearly indicate that trapping for predator control is a critical tool for the protection of waterfowl and other native species.”

Judge Charles Legge issued a comprehensive order in the suit against various state agencies challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 4 – a measure banning all trapping, including the humane trapping for predator control employed by federal authorities. Proposition 4 was passed by California's voters in November 1998. "The judge's ruling is fair and wise. While keeping the state trapping ban in place, he exempted federal authorities from that ban, allowing them to continue the critically important work of non-native predator control required by the law under the ESA," continued Taylor.

Audubon, California Waterfowl Association, and other co-plaintiffs, including the Marin Audubon Society and the Golden Gate Audubon Society, sought a court ruling based upon one section of Proposition 4 that effectively bans "any person, including employees of the federal, state, county or municipal government to use or authorize the use of any leghold trap, padded or otherwise..." Judge Legge ruled that Proposition 4 "cannot be applied to the activities of agencies, employees, or contractors of the United States of America engaged in the management of wildlife on federal lands or in conservation efforts under federal law."

Founded in 1905 and supported by over 550,000 members in 530 chapters throughout the Americas, the National Audubon Society conserves and restores natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.

California Waterfowl Association, founded in 1945, is a 15,000 member, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the protection of California’s wetlands, waterfowl and hunting heritage.

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