Washington, D.C. — Safari Club International (SCI) applauds a court ruling that upholds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision not to list the Florida black bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Such a listing would have ended the annual hunt of the species in southern Georgia and precluded possible future hunts in Florida. SCI participated in the case as an intervenor. SCI filed several briefs defending the FWS’s decision. Among other things, SCI explained that the Florida black bear was not endangered in 1998 and it is not endangered today. Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the decision on March 5, 2008.
Several animal rights and anti-hunting groups originally sued in 1999 to challenge the FWS’s 1998 decision not to list. In 2001, the Court upheld most of that decision, but sent the matter back to the FWS to explain one issue concerning the regulatory mechanisms then in place to protect the species. In 2004, in a well-reasoned decision, the FWS explained that the regulatory mechanisms in place in 1998 protected the Florida black bear from any threats. These groups waited two years before suing again in 2006. In rejecting this challenge to the 2004 decision, the Court agreed with arguments SCI and the Federal government made that the FWS properly analyzed the regulatory mechanisms and threats to the species. The Court rejected all the arguments made by the anti-hunting groups.
Upon hearing of this victory, SCI President Dennis Anderson said, “Time and again, these anti-hunting groups try to misuse the ESA to stop hunting and other legitimate activities. And once a species gets put on the ESA list, these groups fight tooth and nail to keep it there despite recovery, as is occurring with wolves and grizzly bears. SCI is pleased that the Court rejected this latest attempt and that sustainable hunting of the Florida black bear can continue or be considered free of the unnecessary yoke of the ESA.”
The Central Florida Bear Hunters Association, the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation, and a Florida resident joined SCI in defending this case.