How You Can Help Stop the Upcoming Florida Black Bear Hunt

Once upon a time the black bear was an endangered protected species in Florida. But that was a whole three years ago, and now state wildlife officials are giving trophy hunters the go ahead to grab their weapons and start shooting.

Starting October 23, for a week, black bears will be fair game in the sunshine state. Killing them, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is the best way to decrease human-bear conflict despite scientific fact to the contrary and opposition from 75 percent of the interested public.

“The most significant factor in these human-bear conflicts is human-provided foods and attractants that lure bears into human use areas,” stated a presentation made by Dr. Thomas Eason, Director for the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, a department within the FWC on the June meeting when the hunt was approved.

The same idea was mentioned by David Telesco, director of the Bear Management Program, in a 2014 interview with National Geographic about the 400 percent increased conflict between humans and bears in Florida.

The presentation later identified “waste management as the most important issue for reducing conflict bears,” and proposed Florida adopt Bear Wise, a program that, through education and implementation of bear-resistant trash cans, has been proven successful across America, reducing conflict by 95 percent.

The tried and proven strategy was ignored in favor of a cull. Also ignored were three-fourths of the 75,000 comments the commission received from the public against the hunt. Many activists and environmental groups like the Sierra Club of Central Florida voiced their concerns for black bears, which were hunted to near extinction in the 1970s, and explained how a focus on public education, waste management and protecting the animals’ natural habitat from further development would be better options.

“Hunting is part of a comprehensive strategy to manage bears and was incorporated into the bear management plan from the beginning as a method to stabilize growing bear populations,” said Tammy Sapp, Communications/Marketing Manager for the Division of Hunting and Game Management at FWC in a statement to Care2. “As important as it is to work with communities to address bear-related conflicts, this effort does not help us manage growing bear populations at a large scale.”

The problem is that according to science, neither does hunting.

In a report put together by Professor Ed Tavss of Rutgers University when New Jersey was considering a hunt to decrease human-bear conflicts, results from different areas around the country that attempted a hunt showed it was ineffective.

“The results demonstrate that at every site in which the hunting approach was evaluated no effect in reducing the human complaints/conflicts was observed while at every site in which the non-violent program was evaluated, the non-violent approach was demonstrated to be markedly effective in reducing human complaints/conflicts,” wrote Tavss in his conclusion. “Why is the effect of hunting so weak? One possible explanation might be related to where the hunting takes place versus where the nuisance bears reside. Hunting is required to take place in the interior of a habitat, away from human population. However, nuisance bears reside on the periphery of a habitat, at the interface with the human population.”

The FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation presented similar evidence in June, yet four out of the five commissioners voted in favor of a hunt regardless. Not surprising since most of them are proud hunters themselves. Aliese P. “Liesa” Priddy, one of the pro-hunting votes, not only boasts about her taste for hunting in her FWC bio but was one of the first people to purchase a bear hunting permit once the hunt was approved.

Priddy wasn’t the only one, though. As of Tuesday morning, 1948 permits had been issued for the bear hunt and since the FWC has not imposed a limit on them, it is likely that once the hunt starts, there will be at least a hunter for every one of the 3200 bears out in the wild.

At $100 a permit, $300 for non-Floridians, the hunt is turning out to be a profitable venture for FWC.

In order to protect the bears from the mob of trophy hunters it has brought upon them, the FWC has established rules for the hunt. It is forbidden to shoot a bear with one or more cubs present, or to use any bait or feed, like leaving open food containers out, to lure the bear in. As the hunt takes place in remote areas, however, the rules are practically impossible to be enforced, and ‘mistakes’ that break those rules by ‘accident’ are bound to happen. Just ask Walter Palmer, Cecil’s killer.

“By sanctioning a trophy hunt on bears in lieu of effective solutions on human-bear conflicts, the FWC has ignored sound science, responsible wildlife management and the majority of Floridians who oppose a hunt on this highly vulnerable and rare sub-species of bear, found nowhere else in the world outside its range,” said Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States, Kate McFall, in a statement. “We will continue to oppose this hunt, not only because it is unjustified, but also because it is likely that cruel and inhumane practices like hounding and baiting will be added in the near future.”

A group of activists called Speak Up Wekiva based out of Seminole, Fla., is trying to stop the hunt in court. The lawsuit claims the hunt violates Amendment 5 of the FL constitution that outlines the FWC’s mission to “conduct management, preservation and conservation decision-making based upon sound science.” Other activist groups are also trying to get the population to rally on behalf of bears.

“We’re getting people educated, showing them what’s going on and for the most part people are outraged and appalled,” said Adam Sugalski, campaign director for Stop the Forida Bear Hunt, a group of advocates who’s also fundraising to cover the legal bills related to the lawsuit.

By approving the Florida bear hunt, officials that are supposedly responsible for conservation and protection of the state’s creatures have ignored science and overwhelming public outcry. Sign the petition and urge commissioners to reconsider their decision, stop the hunt, refund the permits and incorporate a non-violent plan to reduce human-bear conflict.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

Apparently KelDjabTeCrosse Dosse is some kind of low IQ failure in life toothless redneck. Animals have to suffer for his problems?

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 years ago

If anyone has seen what constitutes "government" in Florida, they would know these are a group of low IQ money hungry bloodthirsty psychopaths. Florida Wildlife Commission goes beyond that they are staffed by terrorists, Florida's government wants to destroy every last habitat and wildlife in Florida exactly because of the bribes they get from corporate and real estate crooks.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

mari s.
Mari S3 years ago

I'll NEVER understand the desire to hunt and kill animals dead in their tracks -- it's downright horrific, cruel, irrational, callous, merciless, unconscionable.

Nicolas Nasrallah

No one gives humans the right to control any species on this planet. The only species that needs control is humans. 7 billion and growing and destroying nature and each other. We have become such savages that a chance at shooting an innocent creature has become very pleasurable. We are infringing on every inch of this earth and anything in our way we kill. Shame on us , nature will fight us , earth quakes , Tsunami and forest fires are real and will get us all. We are supposed to protect not kill. Image all the innocent cubs left to starve and all the wounded bears left to die. Shame on Florida the savage state.

MmAway M3 years ago

Just caught this! TY

Justin Robert K.
Justin Robert K.3 years ago

I've signed several petitions to stop this shame on our state representatives. Sadly the hunt will happen because Florida has already collected over $240,000 for permits to slaughter these innocent Black Bears.

I suggest all of this money not to be spent foolishly. But, to be used to buy bear/animal proof garbage containers, to educate these simple-minded residents who are complaining, build fences, or whatever it takes to save and care for the Black Bears.

Someone mentioned earlier and I agree: If fish, game and wildlife agencies in the government and the states are no longer protecting America's wildlife, maybe they need to be seriously investigated.

A dear dear friend of mine has planned a meeting of a select Circle of Elders for a brief ritual concerning the upcoming court ruling on October 1 about halting the hunt planned concerning Florida's Black Bears on Monday, September 28 at 7:30. I urge all to take a moment and give thoughts to halting this slaughter on this eve.

Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.3 years ago

Debbie W.I liked your comment very much seems on the " rich " side they are to lazy to keep THIER TRASH locked up and cause trouble for the bears STOP KILLING BEARS

Jonathan Y.
Jonathan Y3 years ago

It's crazy that we 'protect' an animal and when its numbers are back to normal start to slaughter it all over again.

Gudrun D.
Gudrun D3 years ago

Human conflict is only an excuse for these trophy hunters to get their thrill, rug, and head on the wall. I signed petition January 29, 2015.