The U.S. attorney in Los Angeles has appealed U.S. District Court Judge Manuel Real's dismissal of a criminal charge that the city eradicated an endangered butterfly when it built a baseball field, plowing under locoweed that the butterfly fed on. Real held that the Endangered Species Act, on which the federal charge was based, does not apply to cities.
Rancho Palos Verdes was the first public agency charged under the act, which makes it a crime to destroy habitats of endangered species protected under the act.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Manuel Medrano, in announcing the appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, said there is case law to refute Real's decision, which held that the law applies to officers of government entities, but not to the entities themselves. Medrano said the appeals court is not expected to rule until the end of the year.
City officials, who hailed Real's decision in May, criticized the appeal this week, saying that the federal government was at fault for not responding to city requests for help in identifying habitat locations of the Palos Verdes blue butterfly.