Survival of the Louisiana black bear requires that it regain protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit cites mounting threats to the remaining small populations for which existing safeguards are inadequate.
The Louisiana black bear is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear. It is often referred to as “Teddy’s Bear,” because President Theodore Roosevelt once famously refused to shoot one that had been tied to a tree, saying it would not be sporting. Today, the Louisiana black bear has lost 99% of its historic population and more than 97% of its historic range.
The bear was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act back in 1992, but the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) declared it recovered in 2016 and removed its designation of critical habitat made only six years prior. The suit contends this decision was based on false assumptions and shoddy science, such as relying upon recovery corridors that do not connect true native populations. The suit also argues the recovery plan relied on by FWS in its delisting decision puts the bear in greater jeopardy, by ignoring:
- Steadily increasing loss of bottomland forest and other critical habitat due to climate change;
- Uncontrolled and rising human-caused mortality, from vehicular collisions, poaching and other causes; and
- The severe threat of hybridization with a non-native bear population introduced for sport-hunting.