An Un BEAR able Decision In Florida
Yesterday the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) in a 5-1 decision, voted to lift the 40 year Florida Black Bear hunting ban. They did this despite the fact that a majority of Floridians (75 percent) oppose the hunt after a massive public education campaign by Environmental Action members and our allies — including running ads like the on on the right in local newspapers and online. They also ignored sound science, including an incomplete population count (they don’t even know how many bears there are), FWC voted to begin a one week bear hunt this October.
My friend, Kate MacFall of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) summed it up best stating, “By sanctioning a trophy hunt on bears in lieu of effective solutions [to] 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.”
For my part, I questioned if the commissioners have a conflict of interest as many of them describe themselves as avid hunters. But even worse, two of the are commissioners are affiliated with captive or “canned hunting” facilities. These facilities allow hunters to pay to kill animals—even endangered species—trapped behind fences. The practice is considered so unsporting, that even hunting groups like Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, and the Izaak Walton League oppose them. You can check out my statement in the video below.
Despite my testimony as well as many others opposed to the hunt, it was a rough day for the bears and those of us who stand up for wildlife. I was pretty depressed on my flight back to New York until I remembered that the great Saul Alinsky once said, “Action comes from keeping the heat on.”
The fight to save Florida’s bears is not over. Right after the hearing I began conversations with new and old friends like HSUS, Sierra Club of Florida and League of Women Voters about our next steps. But these next steps are going to require funding, especially because we went slightly over budget for this very imperative campaign. Please click here to help us raise funds for the next step in the fight to save the Florida Black Bear from unnecessary carnage, and stay tuned for actions coming down the road.