Louisiana Family Wins Property Fight over Endangered Frog Habitat

‘The feds may as well have labeled this Louisiana property critical habitat for a polar bear…’

Government Sanctioned Property Theft Struck Down in Landmark Court Case

Dusky gopher frog / IMAGE: Vice News via Youtube

(Brian Freimuth, Liberty Headlines) A Louisiana family settled its six-year battle with federal bureaucrats who had attempted to claim its property under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act—to protect a frog that hasn’t been seen in the region for half a century.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana agreed to dismiss the Fish and Wildlife Service‘s de facto seizure of 1,544 acres from Edward Poitevent and his family after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the agency in a related case and remanded it back to the lower court.

“This federal frog feud is over, and property rights and good government win,” said Mark Miller, senior attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation and lead counsel for the landowners.

“The government tried to ban development of 1,500 acres of private property at a cost of $34 million in the name of an endangered frog that does not live on the property and cannot survive there,” Miller said.

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Since the end of the Civil War, Poitevent’s family had owned the land in St. Tammy’s Parish. In the 1990s, the Weyerhaeuser Company leased a portion of it and began farming timber.

The Poitevent family intended to keep their land in the family and continue leasing it. But in 2012, the FWS designated the land as a critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog.

“The feds may as well have labeled this Louisiana property critical habitat for a polar bear,” Miller said. “It would have done just as much good.”

Although the species in question had not been seen anywhere in Louisiana since 1967, the FWS forcibly took control over the family’s land under the pretense that the dusky gopher frog might be able to live there if they re-purposed it as a kind of wildlife sanctuary.

Suspiciously, the dusky gopher frog was named the Mississippi gopher frog up until 2012—the same year the FWS attempted to effectively seize the Poitevents’ land in neighboring Louisiana.

Government Sanctioned Property Theft Struck Down in Landmark Court Case 1

Mark Miller and Edward Poitivent / PHOTO: Pacific Legal Foundation

The Poitevent family and the Weyerhaueser company, both represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, fought the FWS in separate cases, with the Weyerhaeuser case making its way to the Supreme Court last fall.

Chief Justice John Roberts held in the decision that the land was eligible to be designated as a “critical habitat” for the frog, but the court also noted that the Endangered Species Act equired the government to take into account the economic impact, which it had failed to do.

Edward Poitevent said it was gratifying to finally “close the book on this relentless crusade” after the lengthy court battle.

“Once I was told that my family’s land had been declared a habitat for a frog that disappeared from the land more than 50 years ago, I knew that justice would ultimately prevail,” he said.

Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.