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Federal Control of Endangered Species on Private Land Does Not Violate Commerce Clause
Description Appeals court upheld verdict that Congress did not violate the Commerce Clause by passing the Endangered Species Act, thereby, empowering the Fish and Wildlife Service to impose regulations on private land in order to protect endangered specie. There is a sufficient link to interstate commerce for the regulatory scheme to be rational.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Engangered Species; Commerce Clause; Takings
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Under the Endangered Species Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service issued a regulation limiting the taking of red wolves on private land. The wolves were produced in a breeding program, then introduced into eastern North Carolina, an area in which they had been extinct. Mann shot a wolf that was on his property as he believed it was a threat to his cattle. He was prosecuted for the kill. He, other residents of the area, and some government leaders sued, contending that the regulation, and the statute upon which it is based, are unconstitutional because they violate the Commerce Clause. The district court upheld the FWS regulation that limited the killing of wolves to restricted circumstances. The property owners appealed.
Decision Affirmed. The regulation does not violate the Commerce Clause because Congress has not exceeded its authority by passing the Endangered Species Act. It gave the FWS certain powers to regulate economic activity, which includes an overall federal scheme to protect endangered species, thereby conserving wildlife resources for the nation, which has economic value.
Citation Gibbs v. Babbitt, 214 F.3d 483 (4th Cir., 2000)

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