The U.S. Supreme Court May Decide Control Over the Utah Prairie Dog

The U.S. Supreme Court May Decide Control Over the Utah Prairie Dog

Who doesn’t love the adorable little Utah prairie dog? They are cute little rodent creatures that have spurred an angry legal battle over the state’s rights versus the federal government to regulate and protect this endangered species, as reported by the Utah Deseret News.

Lawyers for the Pacific Legal Foundation, whose members include Southern Utah private property owners, feel the federal government has exceeded its legal authority when it attempted to regulate the prairie dog on private land in the southern part of Utah.

Attorneys for a group of private property owners in southern Utah, however, say the fight is a classic states' rights case about whether the federal government can extend its regulations of a single species found in just one state to private property. They filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, September 26 to dispute the actions the government has been taking.

The organization, representing the People for the Ethical Treatment of Property Owners, wants the high court to toss a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that it argues is flawed.

As quoted from the Supreme Court Petition,

"This court's review is urgent because, contrary to the repeated admonishment of this court, the 10th Circuit's decision recognizes no limit on Congress' power. The 10th Circuit's broad interpretation of federal power also diminishes the role of states by inviting federal intrusion into traditional areas of state authority.”

The 10th Circuit's ruling last March reversed a lower court ruling that said the federal government had no authority to regulate the control or removal of the Utah prairie dog residing on private property. They stated that their position was since prairie dog species only exists in Utah and has no real connection with interstate commerce.

Utah had developed a state prairie dog management plan that was ended after the 10th Circuit Court's decision.

As the petition argues,

"The Utah prairie dog regulation intrudes not on one but two areas of traditional state concern: managing wildlife and regulating land use.”
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