In the case of Palila v. Hawaii Department of Land and
Natural Resources (639 F.2d 495 (9th Cir. 1981)), HDLNR had introduced
wild sheep and goats to an area to promote sport hunting. However, the sheep
and goats were damaging a species of tree that was important to the endangered
Palila bird. The Court found that, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act
§9, the introduction of the sheep and goats constituted a 'taking' of the
endangered species, and was therefore not allowed.
In response to this decision, the Department of the
Interior (DOI) sought to modify the definition of a 'taking' to include
only those actions which actually kill or injure wildlife.
After the invasive species of sheep and goats were removed,
HDLNR tried to maintain a native species of wild sheep for hunting. This led
to Palila v. Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (852 F.2d
1106 (9th Cir. 1988)), in which the could held that a finding of
'harm' did not require a showing of death to an individual member of the
species, but rather only an "adverse impact on the protected
Basically, under this decision any habitat destruction that
could lead to the extinction of a species is considered a harm, and is
therefore unallowable under ESA §9.
Btw, these suits were brought by the Sierra Club and Hawaii
Audubon Society, but they listed the plaintiff as the Palila bird. It was the
first time in American legal history that a non-human was a listed plaintiff in
a court case.