We’re appalled to learn that Florida’s wildlife agency just approved a black bear hunt in October, which it called a “bear management tool”, despite strong public opposition.
We had urged our supporters to take action against the Florida Fish and Wildlife’s plan when they proposed it back in April and can’t believe it has passed in the commission after it was vehemently protested.
The very same wildlife agency in 2012 removed the Florida black bear from the state’s list of threatened species. An ongoing census indicates the bear population has risen 30 and 50 percent in two forest areas since 2002, which apparently means “hunting season” to some Floridians. With the hunting plan in place, each hunter who purchases a $100-$300 permit will be allowed to kill one bear, leading to total kills of about 320 bears out of an estimated 3,150 population.
Unbelievably, the commission went so far as to even acknowledge opponents' arguments and agreed with them that there is no scientific evidence a hunt will resolve human-bear conflicts.
FoA is adamant that wildlife officials in states that have bear populations should be educating the public on what to do when they encounter a bear, such as staying together and not running, and teaching them to always carry bear deterrent spray, rather than wasting time spreading bear-hating propaganda.
Preventing conflict is key. The public needs to know how crucial it is to deprive bears of all human sources of food—then the situation becomes a lot safer. Florida residents need to know to never leave pet food outdoors, and if bears are around, do not put out bird seed. Bears that have been fed associate human scent with food, and that's a dangerous thing.
Shooting bears is not the sane answer. Better education is. You can contact the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, and urge him to veto this decision and implement better educational programs instead. Call his office at (850) 488-7146 or use this online form.