Butte Bald Eagle Lawsuit Time Line
April 1998 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers videotapes
a Montana Dept. of Livestock helicopter landing in a Bald
Eagle Closure Area on Horse Butte during a bison hazing operation.
The videotape shows the Livestock helicopter landing, taking
off and flying through the bald eagle closure around the Horse
Butte nest. The Horse Butte bald eagle nest failed to produce
eaglets that spring.
April 1998 thru May 2001 - Buffalo Field
Campaign and its volunteers begin to document illegal actions
by the Montana Dept. of Livestock harming threatened bald
eagles and dislocating sensitive species such as trumpeter
swans, and failures by the US Forest Service to protect threatened
species and critical habitat for bald eagles on public lands.
December 1998 - US Forest Service Hebgen
Lake District Ranger Stan Benes issues an Environmental Assessment
for the Montana Dept. of Livestock to set-up a bison trap
within 1/2 mile of a threatened bald eagle nest on Horse Butte.
As part of its comments, Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers submits
a videotape of the Livestock Department's helicopter violating
the Bald Eagle Closure Area on Horse Butte.
December 1998 - US Fish & Wildlife Service
Montana Field Supervisor R. Mark Wilson releases a Biological
Opinion and Incidental Take Statement authorizing the harming
of the Horse Butte bald eagle nest. The take condemns an adult
bald eagle nesting pair, a brood or clutch of 3 eaglets annually
for 10 years. The Biological Opinion requires the US Forest
Service to enforce non-discretionary bison hazing requirements
on the Montana Dept. of Livestock, including a prohibition
on using helicopters in the Horse Butte area and other measures
to minimize harm to bald eagles.
February 1999 - Gallatin National Forest
Supervisor David P. Garber issues his decision approving a
Special Use Permit for the Montana Dept. of Livestock to construct
and operate a trap over a period of 10 years, to capture bison
migrating from Yellowstone National Park to Horse Butte Peninsula. His
decision also includes a finding of no significant impact.
March 1999 - The Ecology Center Inc. and
Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers file an appeal of the US Forest
Service's decision to permit the Montana Dept. of Livestock
to construct and operate the Horse Butte bison trap on the
Gallatin National Forest.
April 1999 - US Forest Service Region One
Appeal Officer Kathleen A. McAllister denies the appeal by
The Ecology Center Inc. and Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers to
block the Department of Livestock's bison trap from being
used on public lands in threatened bald eagle habitat.
May 2000 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The
Ecology Center Inc.; and Buffalo Field Campaign appeal to
US District Court Judge Charles C. Lovell for a hearing to
stop the Montana Dept. of Livestock from using helicopters
to haze and trap bison on Horse Butte. The groups sought a
temporary restraining order to halt helicopter hazing of bison,
and the cooperation of the US Forest Service and National
Park Service in bison hazing operations.
May 2000 - Judge Lovell issues his ruling
that the required 60-day period for a Notice of Intent to
Sue had not transpired, leaving the groups without legal standing
to ask for relief under the Endangered Species Act. In his
ruling, Judge Lovell cites US Forest Service and Montana Dept.
of Livestock court statements that "there is no intention
for future helicopter hazing in Horse Butte area."
May 2001 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The
Ecology Center Inc; and Buffalo Field Campaign file suit alleging
that Marc Bridges, Director of Montana Dept. of Livestock,
David Garber, Supervisor of Gallatin National Forest, Dale
Bosworth, Chief US Forest Service, Ann Venneman, Secretary
of Agriculture, Gail Norton, Secretary of Interior, and Fran
Manell, Director of National Park Service and are in violation
of the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy
Act, National Forest Management Act, Administrative Procedures
Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
May 2003 - Judge Lovell dismisses all claims
raised by the conservation groups.
June 2003 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The
Ecology Center Inc. and Buffalo Field Campaign file an appeal
to the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit on claims that
the US Forest Service failed to properly consider impacts
to threatened bald eagles, and evidence submitted by the groups
documenting violations of, and failure to enforce, bison hazing
July 2004 - A 3-judge panel from the US 9th
Circuit Court of Appeals dismisses all claims raised by the
July 2004 - Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers; The
Ecology Center Inc.; and Buffalo Field Campaign announce that
they will appeal to all 28 active judges on the US 9th Circuit
Court of Appeals to rehear their claim that harming bald eagles
is a significant impact. The en banc hearing requires one
judge to move the issue to a vote, and a majority of active
judges to agree to a rehearing.