From: Associated Press
Published February 6, 2006 12:00 AM

Federal Protection Sought for Florida Bears

NAPLES, Fla. — Conservation groups and an animal welfare group are suing to get the Florida black bear added to the federal list of endangered or threatened species.

Florida classifies the bear as threatened and estimates about 3,000 live in the state and southern Alabama and Georgia. A subspecies of the American black bear, the Florida bear once numbered about 12,000 and roamed throughout the Southeast.

"(A black bear) needs a lot of space and the way development is going in South Florida, the room it needs is being lost, degraded and fragmented," said Laurie Macdonald, Florida director for Defenders of Wildlife, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit Thursday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last considered the status of the Florida black bear in 2004, concluding the species was losing habitat but could survive if public lands were appropriately managed.

The lawsuit was filed in Washington against the wildlife service and the Interior Department.

Source: Associated Press

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