Anti's Challenge Ruling in FL Black Bear Case

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, Bear Hunting Magazine
05/05/2008

A U.S. Sportsmens Alliance Foundation (USSAF) victory in its representation of hunters interests in a lawsuit brought by antis is being appealed.

In the case, meant to make black bears in Florida off-limits to sportsmen forever, the antis contended that the black bear in Florida is a sub-species of the North American black bear, entitling Florida bears to protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The lawsuit was brought by the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the Fund for Animals  an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), and others. United States District Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr. presided over the case and made his decision on March 5, 2008.

The appeal will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The judges ruling in this case wisely deferred to the scientific conclusion of the agency with statutory responsibility for the health and well-being of the bears, said Rick Story, senior vice president of USSAF. The black bear is healthy and abundant and the court correctly ignored the anti-hunters nonsensical argument that the Florida bear is a sub-species of the North American black bear and should be given ESA protection. We are confident that this decision, which is the right decision, will stand up after the appeal.

A dangerous precedent will be set if the black bears in Florida are classified as a sub-species and categorized as threatened or endangered. It will allow the anti-hunters to bring similar lawsuits to challenge the classification of deer, quail and other game animals that have numerous populations throughout the country.

It is an absolute shame that we have got to continue fighting to uphold the Courts initial ruling, which correctly sided with scientific wildlife management, said Brad McNaughton, president of the Central Florida Bear Hunters Association.

Antis have tried for years to list Floridas bears under the ESA, but extensive research by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has determined that the listing is not warranted. Studies show that healthy bear populations occur in secure habitats throughout Florida.

The USSAF joined with Central Florida Bear Hunters Association, Safari Club International and Mark Roden of St. Augustine to intervene in the case.



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