Fact Sheet for the re-exam of FWS decision related to 1998 Florida Black Bear
Petition to list
|The Florida Black Bear occurred historically
in all of Florida, southern Georgia, and southern Alabama. The bear still
occurs in all three states, but in reduced numbers. Core populations are
generally confined to less accessible swamp and forest areas on public
conservation lands and adjacent private lands. An estimated 1,600-3,000
bears remain. The main Georgia and Florida populations are secure, but the
small remaining Alabama population is likely to be gone in the near future.
In 1990, a Florida resident petitioned the Service to list the Florida black
bear under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA).
In December 1998, the Service issued its 12-month finding that listing
the Florida black bear was not warranted because healthy bear populations
occur in secure habitat in four areas: Apalachicola National Forest and
adjacent lands, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge–Osceola National Forest
and adjacent lands, Ocala National Forest and adjacent lands, and Big
Cypress National Preserve and adjacent lands. The Service removed the
species from candidate status at that time.
The Defenders of Wildlife, the Fund for Animals, and the Sierra Club
challenged the Service’s 1998 finding in their 1999 lawsuit filed in the
U.S. District Court for D.C.
|In December 2001, the U.S. District Court for
D.C. upheld most aspects of the Service’s original 1998 finding, but
directed the Service to reexamine and clarify its previous decision
regarding "inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms."
|Pursuant to the Court’s order, the Service
has reexamined the regulatory mechanisms in place at the time of the 1998
finding. The Service has determined that regulatory mechanisms established
by Federal and State laws, regulations and policies were and continue to be
adequate. As a result, the Florida black bear does not require listing under
the ESA. The notice of this action was published in the Federal Register
on January 14, 2004.
|The Federal Register notice, as well
as this fact sheet, frequently asked questions, and other related documents
are available online at
If you have specific questions or need special assistance, please contact
the North Florida Field Office at 904-731-3332.