Nine states are stepping into a lawsuit over the Utah prairie dog in favor of a ruling that animal activists say threatens to undermine the Endangered Species Act.
The attorneys general asked an appeals court on Thursday to uphold a ruling striking down federal protections for the Utah prairie dog on private property. They argue states should manage animals that live only within their borders.
But federal attorneys counter that most protected species live only in a single state and courts have long upheld federal authority to manage them. They are appealing a ruling from U.S. District Judge Dee Benson, who sided with Utah residents who said prairie dogs were overtaking their town.
Thursday's friend-of-the-court brief was signed by attorneys general from Utah, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming.