Past Cases

The Animal Welfare Institute and its original co-plaintiffs, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Fund for Animals, the Animal Protection Institute (now known as Born Free USA), and Tom Rider (now deceased), brought claims against Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and its parent company, Feld Entertainment Inc. (Feld), for the mistreatment of Asian elephants, alleging that a number of the circus’s routine practices violate the Endangered Species Act, including the forceful use of bull hooks to train, control, and "discipline" elephants as well as the continuous chaining of elephants for most of...

Protection of Asian Elephants

In June 2012, Georgia Aquarium, Inc., submitted an application to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for a Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) permit to import wild-caught beluga whales, which would be divided up among several aquariums, including the three SeaWorld parks in Florida, Texas, and California, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. In August 2013, NMFS denied this permit application, finding that it did not satisfy the MMPA’s requirements for several reasons. Most importantly, the proposed import could have a significant adverse impact on the Sakhalin-Amur beluga whale stock and potentially encourage the capture...

Protection of Beluga Whales - Photo by Peter M Graham

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) promulgated an Interim Final Rule regarding a horse slaughter inspection system. Specifically, the USDA had created a "fee for service" inspection system designed to facilitate the continued transport of tens of thousands of American horses for human consumption abroad. The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs challenged the rule on the grounds that it violated requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

Protection of Horses

The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought claims against Beech Ridge Energy, LLC and its parent company for past and future takes of endangered Indiana bats as a result of the construction, turbine erection, and operation activities of an industrial wind facility without an incidental take permit, arguing that such activities constitute violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Protection of Indiana Bats

The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought this suit under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules in an attempt to enjoin the town of Southold from giving up to $25,000 to Long Island Farm Bureau (LIFB) for the East End Deer Management Project and/or a deer cull on agricultural farms within the town of Southold, as approved by the Southold Town Board.

Protection of Long Island White-Tailed Deer - Photo from Flickr/Rich Schieren

AWI and its co-plaintiffs brought claims against the National Marine Fisheries Service and the US Navy over its five-year plan for testing and training activities in the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) Study Area. The operations include active sonar and explosives, which are known to cause permanent injuries and deaths to marine mammals and sea turtles.

Protection of Marine Mammals (HSTT) - Photo by Jocelyn Lehman

AWI and its co-plaintiffs brought claims against the Navy over its plans to build an Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR) southeast of the Florida/Georgia border, which has the potential to adversely affect millions of marine mammals, including the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale whose calving grounds are adjacent to the project site. The lawsuit alleges that the Navy and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which authorized the project, did not adequately analyze the environmental impacts of operating the range before deciding upon construction.

Protection of Marine Mammals (USWTR)

The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs brought claims pursuant to the Endangered Species Act and other laws against BP for burning critically endangered sea turtles as part of its clean-up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico following the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The animal welfare and conservation groups subsequently amended their complaint to include the U.S. Coast Guard as a defendant for directing BP’s containment activities.

Protection of Sea Turtles

The Animal Welfare Institute and its co-plaintiffs have brought suit against the Indiana Department of Natural Resources over the Department’s decision to waive state permit requirements for a coyote and fox penning facility.

Protection of Wild Foxes and Coyotes