Louisiana Landowners Score Property Rights Win in Dusky Gopher Frog Case


In a victory for property rights, a Louisiana family earlier this month reached a settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in which the federal government agreed to drop its efforts to designate "critical habitat" for the dusky gopher frog on their land.

The case began in 2012 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sought to limit development on more than 1,500 acres of the Louisiana family’s land by designating it as a critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog. The action was taken even though the dusky gopher frog had not been seen in Louisiana for more than 50 years.

In 2016, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that the government’s actions were permissible.Two years later in a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court sent the critical habitat designation for the dusky gopher frog back to the Fifth Circuit for reconsideration.

The Fifth Circuit then sent the case down to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, where the parties entered into settlement discussions.

Now that the Fish and Wildlife Service has settled the case in favor of the Louisiana landowners, the agency is working on a proposed rulemaking to define the Endangered Species Act term "habitat."

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