We were asleep at the switch Friday, or we would have had this out sooner. The D.C. Circuit, in a long-awaited decision, ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service did not err in its decision to delist the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel (Friends of Blackwater v. Salazar, 11-5128, D.C. Cir., 8/17/2012)
Opinion, and Judge Emmet Sullivan's decision in the district court. And here's a link to the Northeast Region's WVNFS page.
We'll have more in a bit, but here's the first paragraph of the decision, with Circuit Judge Douglas Ginsburg opining for the majority (he was joined by Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, while Circuit Judge Judith Rogers dissented):
The Secretary of the Interior appeals the district court’s grant of summary
judgment to the Friends of Blackwater et al. The district court held the Fish
and Wildlife Service, an agency in the Department of the Interior, violated the
Endangered Species Act by removing the West Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel
from the list of endangered species when several criteria in the agency’s Recovery
Plan for the species had not been satisfied. We hold the district court erred by
interpreting the Recovery Plan as binding the Secretary in his delisting decision.
Because we also reject the Friends’ alternative arguments that the Service’s action
was arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law, we reverse the judgment of the
Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus (Image from D.C. Circuit opinion)
Coverage in the Charleston Gazette by the redoubtable Ken Ward Jr. Here's an excerpt from his piece:
"Formally called the Virginia northern flying squirrel but better known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel, the subspecies is as old as the mastodons. It lives in clusters atop the highest Appalachian peaks of West Virginia and adjacent Highland County, Va. About 10,000 years ago, it became isolated from other northern flying squirrel species when ice sheets covering North America receded.
"The so-called flying squirrels do not actually fly, but glide using a furry, sheetlike membrane along the sides of their bodies."
Friends of Blackwater's WVNFS page