FWS must reassess Florida black bear listing


Mar 11, 2001
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Tallahassee Democrat

Tuesday, December 18, 2001, updated at 6:40AM

Wildlife Service ordered to rethink bear's status.

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its refusal to list the Florida black bear under the Endangered Species Act, a significant victory for the animal, activists said Monday.

Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. issued the order in Washington last week in a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, The Fund for Animals and several individuals.

They said they were challenging a 1998 decision by the service that the bear did not qualify for listing as a threatened species under the act because its numbers were too large.

Kennedy disagreed with that assessment.

"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," said Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The Fund for Animals.

The black bear is listed by the state as a threatened species. State officials said Florida's black bear population hovers between 1,200 and 1,900. But federal officials have concluded in the past that there may be as many as 3,000 black bears in Florida and have declined to add the animal to the endangered species list.

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