ALDF Encourages FWS to Build on Progress of Chimpanzees RightsPosted by Neil Abramson, Daniel Saperstein, and Kelly Anne Targett, Proskauer Rose LLP on August 19, 2013
In June, we shared the momentous news that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) had reversed its stance on the practice of “split listing” chimpanzees under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The split listing, which had endured in some form for nearly forty years, recognized wild chimpanzees as an endangered species but denied any real protection to captive members of the species kept as pets, used as test subjects for research, or otherwise exploited, including by the entertainment industry. As we previously reported, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) led the effort to end the split listing of captive chimpanzees. In 2010, HSUS filed a petition, along with seven other concerned organizations, urging FWS to change the rule that stripped captive chimpanzees of ESA protection. The petition argued the rule violated the ESA because it failed to enhance the survival of wild chimpanzees and it facilitated the use of captive chimpanzees in entertainment. In our comments to the agency, ALDF, through our pro bono counsel Proskauer Rose LLP, argued further that the practice of split listing was not authorized under the Endangered Species Act at all. In proposing to end the split listing, FWS embraced arguments made by both groups, finding that the ESA does not allow for the split listing of captive animals and acknowledging that wild chimpanzee populations remain in peril.
Following its conclusion that all chimpanzees deserve endangered species protections, FWS proposed a rule that, if finalized, would do away with the split listing that has contributed so significantly to the deterioration of the pan trogolodyte species. FWS invited public comments on its proposed rule and, once again, ALDF weighed in. We applauded FWS for the reversal of its longstanding policy, and encouraged FWS to finalize the rule change as quickly as possible to end the suffering of captive chimpanzees in this country. We also urged FWS to take any and all measures necessary to ensure that the split listing—once eliminated for chimpanzees—never is employed for any other species.
We now await the final word on the matter, and look forward to sharing news of a major victory for captive and wild chimpanzees with all of you. Stay tuned!