Court Rules In Favor Of Florida Black Bear

A U.S. District Court that recently
ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its
refusal to list the Florida black bear under the Endangered
Species Act (ESA) marked a significant victory for the bear,
Defenders of Wildlife said on December 12th. The decision came as the
result of a lawsuit brought by Defenders of Wildlife, The
Fund for Animals, Sierra Club and several individuals that
challenged a 1998 decision by the Service that the Florida
black bear did not qualify for listing as a threatened species
under the ESA.

"The court found that the Service failed to adequately
justify its decision not to list the Florida black bear under
the ESA and in particular, that the agency had failed to
establish that the bear was adequately protected by other
federal and state laws. As a result, the Service will now
have to reconsider its prior decision, as well as any new
scientific information, and render a new listing
determination." said Michael Senatore, litigation director for
Defenders of Wildlife.

"The court said the Service could not show that state and
federal programs are adequately protecting the Florida bear.
Without rules that help black bears and their habitat, we will
continue to wipe out the woods and roll the asphalt over
areas where bear tracks should appear," said Laurie
Macdonald, Defenders' director of Florida programs. "Treat
neighborhoods and nature well, and we'll find both people
and wildlife can exist in this state to everyone's benefit."

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cannot leave the
imperiled Florida black bear in limbo while trophy hunters are
chomping at the bit to set their sights on this rare species.
Anything less than a threatened listing would be playing
Russian roulette with the Florida black bear population," said
Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Fund for

In 1990, co-plaintiff Inga Hutchinson petitioned the Service
to list the black bear under the ESA. In response to the
petition, the Service conducted a status review of the bear
and in 1992 concluded that the bear qualified as a
threatened species because of habitat destruction, hunting,
poaching and other human induced mortality. By 1997,
however, the Service had still failed to place the bear on
the ESA list. In 1997, the Fund for Animals, Defenders of
Wildlife and others reached a settlement agreement with the
Service whereby the Service agreed to render a final listing
decision by December 31, 1998. On December 8, 1998, the
Service issued its decision that the bear did not qualify for
listing. That decision was subsequently challenged by

The groups were represented in this case by Jon Lovvorn
and Eric Glitzenstein of the law firm Meyer & Glitzenstein, a
Washington, D.C. firm that specializes in wildlife law.

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