|The Mountain-Prairie Region|
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228
November 16, 2005
Contact: John Neal 801-625-5570
Reached on Endangered Species Act Violation
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and a Cedar City developer have settled a Federal district court case challenging the assessment of a civil penalty for taking threatened Utah prairie dogs. Under the settlement, the developer will pay a reduced penalty of $10,000. The Service will deposit the money in the Endangered Species Reward Account, which is used to fund rewards for information on violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Utah prairie dog is listed as a threatened species under the ESA, which prohibits injuring, killing, or otherwise taking the animals. In 1998, the Service assessed a $15,000 civil penalty against the developer for taking Utah prairie dogs in connection with the construction of a residential development in Enoch, Utah. The developer sought a hearing before the Department of the Interior’s Office of Hearings and Appeals, where an administrative law judge upheld the penalty. The developer appealed that decision, and an ad hoc board of appeals in the Office of Hearings and Appeals again upheld the penalty. In December 2004, the developer filed a complaint challenging the penalty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. In November 2005, the Service and the developer entered into a written agreement settling the district court case. Under the agreement, the developer will withdraw the case and pay a reduced civil penalty of $10,000.
The violation occurred in October 1995 when a wildlife biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources notified the Service that Utah prairie dogs occupied property about to undergo residential development. The Service investigated, found Utah prairie dogs on the property, and notified the developer of the requirements of the ESA. The Service assessed a civil penalty after the developer proceeded with the development notwithstanding the threatened Utah prairie dogs that were injured and killed in the process.
Individuals with information on violations of fish and wildlife laws are encouraged to contact the nearest State Conservation Officer or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
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