SW Legal studies in Business

Groups Had No Standing to Challenge Decision to Reduce Deer Population
Description South Carolina high court upheld the decision of the state Department of Natural Resources to reduce the deer population in a wildlife sanctuary. The decision was based on substantial evidence and the groups opposing the deer kill did not have standing to challenge the decision.
Topic Environmental Law
Key Words Standing; Wildlife Protection
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Sea Pines is a 5,280 acre private property area on Hilton Head Island designated by the South Carolina legislature as a wildlife sanctuary. Concerned about the large white-tail deer population, a professor of Wildlife Ecology was hired to head a study of the deer population. He recommended that 100 to 200 deer be killed to end the over-population problem. Various environment groups sued to challenge the issuance of permits by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to reduce the deer population in the sanctuary. The trial court and court of appeals rejected the challenge; the environmental groups appealed to the state supreme court.

Affirmed. To have standing, one must have a personal stake in the subject matter of the lawsuit, that is, one must be a real party in interest, not just a nominal or technical interest in the matter. An aesthetic interest in wildlife is a legally protected interest that can provide standing to challenge an injury to that interest. Here, the environmental groups do not have standing to challenge the issuance of permits by the DNR to reduce the deer population because the groups could not allege a particularized harm as a result of the population reduction. There was no evidence that the opportunity to view and enjoy deer would be diminished because there would still be a substantial population. The DNR based its decision under statutory authority to regulate wildlife and on substantial evidence that the reduction in population was the proper decision.

Citation Sea Pines Ass'n. for Protection of Wildlife v. South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources, - S.E.2d - (2001 WL 823697, Sup. Ct., S.C., 2001)

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