United States District Court, D. Montana, Missoula Division
W. Molloy, District Judge United States District Court
WildEarth Guardians seeks declaratory and injunctive relief
against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service of the
Department of the Interior (collectively "the
Service") for violating the National Environmental
Policy Act ("NEPA") in the administration of the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
("CITES") export program for pelts and parts of
furbearer species. On August 3, 2016, the Montana Trappers
Association and the National Trappers Association were
granted leave to intervene on the side of the Service. (Doc.
21.) The Fur Information Council of America ("Fur
Information Council") seeks to intervene as well, (Doc.
36), and its request is granted.
qualifies to intervene as a matter of right under Rule
24(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure if four
requirements are met: "(1) the intervention application
is timely; (2) the applicant has a significant protectable
interest relating to the property or transaction that is the
subject of the action; (3) the disposition of the action may,
as a practical matter, impair or impede the applicant's
ability to protect its interest; and (4) the existing parties
may not adequately represent the applicant's
interest." Citizens for Balanced Use v. Mont.
Wilderness Ass 'n, 647 F.3d 893, 897 (9th Cir. 2011)
(quoting Prete v. Bradbury, 438 F.3d 949, 954 (9th
Cir. 2006)). While all four requirements must be met, they
are interpreted broadly in favor of
deciding if a motion to intervene is timely, courts consider
"(1) the stage of the proceeding at which an applicant
seeks to intervene; (2) the prejudice to other parties; and
(3) the reason for and length of the delay." United
States v. Alisal Water Corp., 370 F.3d 915, 921 (9th
Cir. 2004) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
Here, while WildEarth's Amended Complaint was filed five
months ago, the briefing schedule has been stayed pending
further environmental analysis by the Service. (See
Doc. 42.) Fur Information Council would be able to follow the
same briefing schedule assigned other parties, preventing
prejudice. As for the reason of the delay, Fur Information
Council indicates it was waiting for a ruling on the
Service's dismissal motion. In light of the early stage
of the proceeding, the lack of prejudice, and the reason
provided for delay, Fur Information Council's motion is
prospective intervenor must further establish its interest
"is protectable under some law, and ... there is a
relationship between the legally protected interest and the
claims at issue." Wilderness Socy. v. U.S. Forest
Serv., 630 F.3d 1173, 1180 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Sierra Club v. U.S. Envtl. Protec. Agency, 995 F.2d
1478, 1484 (9th Cir. 1993)). A putative intervener's
ability to protect that interest is impaired or impeded
"if it will suffer a practical impairment of its
interests as a result of the pending litigation."
Id. (quoting California ex rel. Lockyer v.
United States, 450 F.3d 436, 441 (9th Cir. 2006)). The
Fur Information Council has an organizational interest-and
its members a financial one-in the CITES regulatory regime.
The disposition of the claims at issue could threaten the Fur
Information Council's ability to protect it and its
members' interests. Citizens for Balanced Use,
647 F.3d at 898.
Fur Information Council meets its burden of showing
inadequacy of representation. This burden is
"'minimal' and may be satisfied if the applicant
can demonstrate that representation of its interests 'may
be' inadequate." Id. (quoting Arakaki
v. Cayetano, 324 F.3d 1078, 1086 (9th Cir. 2003)).
Because Federal Defendants, the existing Trapper Intervenors,
and the Fur Information Council share the same ultimate
objective -i.e., upholding Defendants' regulatory
decisions-there is a presumption of adequate representation.
Id. Nevertheless, "the government's
representation of the public interest may not be
'identical to the individual parochial interest' of a
particular group just because 'both entities occupy the
same posture in the litigation.'" Id. at
899 (quoting WildEarth Guardians v. U.S. Forest
Serv., 573 F.3d 992, 996 (10th Cir. 2009)). Here, while
both Federal Defendants and the Fur Information Council seek
to defend the regulatory process that was followed in this
case, their ultimate goals are different. Federal Defendants
are bound to follow the proper regulatory process even if
exportation under CITES becomes limited in a way contrary to
the Fur Information Council's goals, rebutting the
presumption of adequate representation. The Fur Information
Council's interests are also distinguishable from the
existing Trapper Intervenors, as the latter have outlined a
specific interest in how regulation will affect trapping;
regulation could affect trapping and licensing of exports
the Fur Information Council satisfies the requirements for
intervention as a matter of right, IT IS ORDERED that its
motion to intervene (Doc. 36) is GRANTED. The Fur Information
Council shall re-file its answer as a separate docket entry
in the case. The caption is modified as reflected above. The
case shall proceed as outlined in the Stay Order.
(See Doc. 42.)
FURTHER ORDERED that the Fur Information Council shall also
re-file its motion for the pro hac vice admission of
Ira T. Kasdan for consideration as a separate docket entry in
Because the Fur Information Council may
intervene as a matter of right, its alternative argument for
permissive intervention pursuant to Rule 24(b)(2) is not
While the motion indicates it is
opposed by the plaintiff, WildEarth did not file a response
brief. See L.R. 7.1(d)(1)(B)(ii) ("[F]ailure to
file a response brief may be deemed an admission that ...