Safari Club International recently took one more step in its years-long advocacy efforts related to the Louisiana black bear. A subspecies of black bear, the Louisiana black bear was listed as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in 1992. By 2016, the bears had recovered and were removed from the threatened species list, giving management authority back to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. As is the case with nearly every successful delisting from federal authority, plaintiffs challenged that decision. In that case, SCI was the only organization to defend the delisting alongside the federal government—and SCI’s arguments succeeded in getting the case dismissed in February 2020.
In September 2020, the plaintiffs refiled their suit in a different federal court—the Middle District of Louisiana—and SCI is again the only organization rising to defend the FWS’ science-based decision. This time, however, the State of Louisiana has also intervened to defend the delisting. The court granted SCI’s motion to intervene in October 2021. A week later, SCI filed its motion for judgment in the case in its favor and in opposition to the plaintiffs’ arguments. Briefing will conclude in December. The court could schedule a hearing sometime thereafter.
SCI’s fight in the courts goes hand-in-hand with the SCI Acadiana Chapter’s conservation efforts. In recent years, the Chapter has earmarked funds to be used for the arrest and conviction of poachers who killed three black bears. Additionally, the Acadiana Chapter donated two GPS/radio collars to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for use in the state’s black bear research program. The Chapter has hosted state wildlife biologists to speak at meetings, and Chapter members, along with SCI staff, have even gotten their hands dirty by assisting with state biologists in their field work! And of course, the SCI Acadiana Chapter leadership has supported SCI’s national litigation staff in the black bear litigation.
Stay tuned to SCI’s Advocacy page for updates on the case.