The Louisiana Black Bear Litigation

Did you know the Louisiana black bear's habitat is no longer protected under federal law? ABK and partners are challenging the 2016 delisting of the Louisiana black bear and removal of its critical habitat designation from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Why is ABK challenging the delisting? View our original comments submitted to the U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Service click (here)

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January 2019

In June 2018, ABK, Louisiana Crawfish Producers Association, Sierra Club and its Delta Chapter, with three individual plaintiffs, filed suit in district court in Washington D.C., challenging the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2016 decision to delist the Louisiana black bear from the U.S. List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife under the Endangered Species Act. ABK et al. challenges the Service’s conclusion that the species is “recovered” on the basis of sound science, but rather contends that threats remain and the Service’s decision was premature and in violation of federal law.  (To read the Plaintiffs’ Complaint, click here).

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While the parties are working to ensure that the administrative record is complete and adequately presented to the court, Safari Club International – an international organization protecting the right to hunt – is seeking to intervene in the case in support of the government and its decision to delist the black bear.

On January 18, 2019, Plaintiffs filed an opposition to Safari Club’s intervention, arguing that this is not a case about hunting, but rather if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service complied with federal law, used the best available science to make a delisting determination, and whether the “recovery” plan relied on by the Service actually puts the bear in greater jeopardy. The right to hunt is not at issue in this case, in fact, most of our Plaintiffs are avid outdoors enthusiasts and hunters. However, there is currently no legal season for hunting black bears, and there has not been for many decades.

 Plaintiffs express concern over the probability that allowing Safari Club to join the case will bring in issues that are not germane to the case, adding unnecessary confusion to an already complex case. Plaintiffs argue that the intervention misses the mark – which this case is not a question of whether the bear should or should not be hunted, but whether the federal government followed the law in determining that the Louisiana black bear no longer requires federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. The decision of whether, when, or how to initiate a hunting season for black bears in Louisiana is entirely up to the state wildlife agency, who is not even a party to the case. This issue is not part of Plaintiffs’ claims and as such, should not be the basis for which Safari Club is granted intervention.

To learn more, check out Plaintiffs’ opposition memorandum (here), and Safari Club’s Motion to Intervene (here).

Basinkeeper and others have recently filed a a motion to prevent Safari Club from intervening in our lawsuit with the Department of Interior with their inappropriate Delisting of the Louisiana Black Bear(LBB) by completely failing to adhere to basic scientific principles.                                             

Safari Club seems to base their intervention on complete acceptance of the previous Federal Administration’s misuse of the “best science available": as required by the Endangered Species Act(ESA) and a spurious claim that the actions by Basinkeeper et al will interfere with Louisiana citizen’s right to hunt bears. Nothing can be further from the truth.                                                     

The LBB (Ursus americanus luteolus) was listed as Threatened in 1992 when by USFWS’s own words in the Listing document “the genetic profile of a known U.a. luteolus is unavailable…”. Furthermore, a stated reason for Listing the LBB “was the only practical means available for protecting ANY POSSIBLE REMAINING UNIQUE GENETIC MATERIAL(emphasis added) originally belonging to the native U,a.luteolus would be through listing and protecting the taxon…”. The complete failure of USFWS and their lawyers to incorporate a quarter century of rapidly evolving genetic knowledge into the Delisting decision is at the core of our lawsuit in addition to many other failures.                                                                                                   

T.R Rossvelt an unapologetic hunter is the creator of the National Wildlife Refuge System, camped with John Muir for days in the High Sierras of California, and, among many other accomplishments introduced Conservation of Natural Resources to the highest level of National political policy. Aldo Leopold another hunter was the Father of the science of modern wildlife management exemplified with the publication of GAME MANAGEMENT. Leopold also authored A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC a classic of the environmental movement. In short hunters have always been at the forefront of humankind’s communion with Nature since the beginning of humanity.                         

The reality is that everyone should adhere to management of our Wildlife Resources according to “the best science available”; and failure at the highest levels of the Department of Interior to adhere to this principle is unacceptable. Louisiana is the only State in our Nation that has given to its citizens a Constitutional right to hunt and fish. Every person and organization in Louisiana involved in this legal action is a participant in some form of harvesting our wildlife. To attempt to make this an anti-hunting event is misguided at best or at worse an intentional marketing ploy to inflame their base and thus increase donation to “their cause”.

To view our original comments submitted to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Service click (here)