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Forest Service Scolded on Goshawk Plan

In adopting management plans for national forests in Arizona and New Mexico, the US Forest Service claimed to include measures to protect the northern goshawk, a large raptor with stubby wings adapted for flying and foraging in mature forests. However, the Service's "protections" were based on an assumption that the goshawk is a "habitat generalist," meaning that it can get along fine most anywhere and therefore reducing the need to protect old, mature forest stands. Studies by the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Arizona Game and Fish Department disputed this generalist theory,but the Forest Service left these studies out of its environmental impact statement.

Earthjustice took the matter to court and, in November 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Forest Service had acted illegally and would have reconsider its goshawk protection policies in light of the "anti-generalist" studies.