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Prairie Dogs and Federalism

The United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, under the Endangered Species Act, may restrict the use of property near a threatened species of prairie dogs even though the prairie dogs are located solely within the state of Utah, 70% of which are on non-federal land, and despite the prairie dogs having no commercial value. The lawsuit was initiated by an organization of property owners, People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners (PETPO), who claimed the restrictions represented an overbroad interpretation of the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. A district court had ruled in favor of PETPO. PETPO is appealing the case to the United States Supreme Court.

The ruling is available here.  Utah Senator Mike Lee’s reaction, published by the Wall Street Journal, is available here.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of the Center for the Study of Federalism.