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Southwestern Willow Flycatcher listing upheld

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A federal district court has upheld the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus).

In late 2021, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association filed suit challenging the 1995 listing of the southwestern willow flycatcher under the Endangered Species Act. When first listed, there were an estimated 300 to 500 nesting pairs of the bird lived in the United States and Mexico. 

In their lawsuit, the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association argued that Southwestern Willow Flycatcher is not a valid subspecies and therefore not eligible for protection under the ESA. The Maricopa Audubon Society and the Center for Biological Diversity intervened in the case, supporting the USFWS and urging the court to retain federal protections for the birds.

This week, the court dismissed the lawsuit, upholding the USFWS’s decision that the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher is a distinct subspecies eligible for protection. 

Read the court's opinion here

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