Published on February 19, 2014

Victory for Endangered Species!

We are happy to report in response to a lawsuit filed against the Commonwealth's regulatory use of priority habitat screening to protect endangered species, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled unanimously to affirm the state's authority under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA).

The priority habitat designation program allows the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Fisheries and Wildlife Division to review projects in environmentally sensitive areas and make recommendations for landowners to avoid impacts to these vulnerable species. Mass Audubon coordinated amicus brief filings in support of the Commonwealth with partners from the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions, Conservation Law Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation.

"The decision by the Supreme Judicial Court reaffirms the Commonwealth's right to protect its most vulnerable plant and animal species from destruction,” said Jack Clarke, Mass Audubon’s Director of Public Policy and Government Relations. “Mass Audubon applauds the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Fish and Game for successfully defending the endangered species act before the state's highest court for the second time in thirteen years. As original drafters of the endangered species act, we look forward to its continued fair implementation and the protections it affords.” Learn more about the decision.

While we take this time to celebrate, we also await news of MESA bills currently awaiting action in the legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. We support Representative Stephen Kulik’s (D-Worthington) consensus bill (H.756) that would strengthen our existing endangered species law, and we continue to oppose any legislation that would repeal or weaken it.