Pending Federal Actions
House Bill Introduced to Restore and Manage Buffalo Herds on Tribal Land
H.R. 5153 proposes to create a program within the Department of the Interior that will help tribes and tribal organizations foster and conserve buffalo herds. The full text of the bill is not yet available.
Senate Bill Introduced to Revive Monarch and Pollinator Habitat
Senate Bill 2918 proposes to establish a federal grant program to fund pollinator-friendly practices and habitats along highways. The full text of the bill is not yet available.
House Passes Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act
The House voted to pass the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2019. The act would prohibit, except in cases of permitted takings used for non-commercial purposes, the possession, sale, or purchase of any product containing shark fin. The bill would exempt smooth dogfish and spiny dogfish from the prohibition, pending a determination by the Secretary of Commerce regarding the impact of such exemptions.
Passed State Actions
Michigan Becomes Fifth State to Ban Sale of Eggs Produced by Caged Hens
Michigan’s Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist signed legislation that will require that all hens used to produce eggs in Michigan are housed in cage-free systems by 2025. The measure also bans the sale of eggs produced by caged hens in the state, even if they were produced somewhere else. The legislation also bans veal crates/tethering (beginning February 19, 2020) and gestation crates (beginning April 1, 2020).
Case Law Updates
Federal Case Law Updates
Vegan Consumer Files Suit Over Contaminated Impossible Whopper
A Burger King consumer has filed a proposed class action against Burger King, claiming that the restaurant’s representations that the Impossible Whoppers were “0% beef,” when in fact they were cooked on “the same grills as its traditional meat products,” were misleading. The complaint alleges unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Investor Class Action Against SeaWorld to Move Forward
A California federal judge has rejected SeaWorld’s argument for summary judgment in an investor class action that accuses the company of lying to its investors about the impact of the documentary Blackfish on its business. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2014, will now move forward in federal court.
Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court’s Abstention on ESA Case
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that a California district court erred in abstaining from a suit brought by Friends of Oceano Dunes against California state officials on various grounds. The suit alleges that the California Coastal Commission’s permitting of dust control measures violate the Endangered Species Act by placing the western snowy plower, a protected bird under the Act, in danger.
CBD Sues FWS Over Red Wolf Recovery Plan
The Center for Biological Diversity has filed suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act for failing to update an “outdated” recovery plan for the red wolf.
CBD Plans to Sue FWS for Endangered Species Act Action on 274 Species
The Center for Biological Diversity has announced it will file suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to determine the protected status of almost 300 species, including moose, the Blanding’s turtle, the golden-winged warbler, tricolored bats, spotted skunks, the western bumblebee, wolverines, a “jumping” slug, and fish.
State Case Law Updates
Judge Orders Cricket Hollow Zoo Closed Due to Repeated Animal Cruelty
A federal judge has found that Cricket Hollow Zoo chronically violates Iowa’s animal cruelty standards and ordered that all animals be transferred to sanctuaries and rescues for rehabilitation. The lawsuit, brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund in 2018, argues that the repeated violation of animal cruelty laws creates a public nuisance. This lawsuit follows another brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund against the roadside zoo that affirmed the application of the Endangered Species Act to captive wildlife.
Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Comments on ESA and MMPA Applications
The Fish and Wildlife Service has announced it is accepting comments on a number of permit applications it has received under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The applications include requests for permits to import samples of wild and captive ground pangolin to the University of Washington, export one loggerhead sea turtle to Sea Life London Aquarium, captive breed penguins and lemurs in a zoo in Minnesota, to import sport-hunted trophies of a South African antelope, and to import biological samples from wild-caught polar bears to Stanford University Medical Center. The agency is accepting comments on these applications until December 20, 2019.
FDA Announces Comment Period Extension Meeting On “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety”
The FDA has extended its comment period related to the public meeting held in October regarding the use of new and emerging technologies and upcoming innovation in the agricultural and other fields. One question on which the agency is requesting feedback relates to the safety of foods produced through new business models. Written comments will now be accepted until December 5, 2019.
FWS Announces ESA Protections for Meltwater Lednian Stonefly and Western Glacier Stonefly
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will add the meltwater lednian stonefly and the western glacier stonefly to the list of threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act.
FWS Announces Five Year Status Reviews of Albatross and Otter
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it will begin five year status reviews of the short-tailed albatross and the Southwest Alaska distinct population segment of the northern sea otter. The agency is requesting submission of “any new information” on these species since the last time such a review was completed. In order to ensure information is considered in the review, the agency must receive any submissions by January 21, 2020.
Machiavellianism’s Role in Meat Consumption
A new article, Valuing Humans Over Animals — Gender Differences in Meat-Eating Behavior and the Role of the Dark Triad, published in Appetite, explores the relationship between gender differences in attitudes toward meat consumption and the Dark Triad personality dimensions. The study found that Machiavellianism is partly able to explain gender differences in meat-eating justification and higher meat consumption.
Article Addresses the Ethics of Cultivated Meat
On Visions and Promises — Ethical Aspects of in vitro Meat, published in Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, explores whether cultivated meat is an ethical solution for existing problems in animal welfare, the environment, and society.
Salmon Company Under DOJ Antitrust Investigation
The salmon farming company Mowi has announced it is being investigated for price-fixing.
Nestle’s Vegan Burgers, Profits, and, Ethics
A piece in the New York Time explores Nestle’s new focus on more environmentally sustainable and just products, such as vegan burgers, and that concept’s compatibility with maintaining its high profit status.
Overfishing and Human Rights
A new Yale article explores the connections between overfishing and human rights abuses on the high seas.