Kate MacFall: Florida black bears under threat again, for no reason - Florida Politics

Kate MacFall: Florida black bears under threat again, for no reason

Kate MacFall, Florida state director for Humane Society of the United States.

Florida’s black bears are once again under threat of trophy hunters invading their forest homes and shooting them for no reason.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission may revisit the issue of a Florida statewide hunt on black bears, and it is time for citizens to let them know we want our bears protected – not shot for a trophy.

The issue could come up for discussion fairly soon, possibly at the Commission’s April 19-20 meeting in Tallahassee. Floridians should urge the Wildlife Commission to listen to the majority of us who want Florida black bears treated humanely and conserved for future generations.

Florida’s bears are a unique subspecies of the American black bear and were only removed from the state’s threatened list in 2012. Florida’s bears are slow to reproduce, and females spend up to 18 months raising their cubs. If a mother is killed by a trophy hunter, her cubs could die from starvation, dehydration, predation or exposure.

Last year, a group of knowledgeable Florida scientists sent a detailed letter to the Wildlife Commission, warning that allowing the hunt to continue as it did in 2015, coupled with roadkill numbers, nuisance bears killed and poaching, “may well plunge multiple subpopulations into sharp decline.”

No one in modern times needs to hunt bears for food or clothing. They are hunting for thrills, and Floridians don’t support this. Of more than 40,000 comments sent to the FWC before the 2015 hunt, 75 percent opposed it. A 2015 statewide Remington Research poll found that nearly two-thirds of Floridians oppose bear hunting. The poll showed that Floridians overwhelmingly favor educational outreach (84 percent) and bear-proof garbage cans (81 percent.) Eighty-seven percent agreed that neighborhoods near areas where bears roam have a responsibility to avoid attracting bears by securing their garbage and other foods.

County commissions in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Pinellas, Seminole and Volusia, and city commissions in Davie, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, Deltona, Clermont, South Miami, Biscayne Park, Eustis, Safety Harbor and Palmetto Bay all passed resolutions opposing a Florida bear hunt.

Our state wildlife officials publicly acknowledge what the scientific research shows — that bear hunting does not reduce bear-human conflicts, because the bears hunters kill in deep woods are not the “problem” bears found rooting in unsecured suburban garbage cans. The FWC has authority to deal with those kinds of bears without holding a hunt. In fact, newly invigorated efforts to provide neighborhoods with training and bear-proof garbage bins have already cut the number of nuisance complaints.

 As development sprawls across Florida, our bears already face threats from highways and genetic isolation from other bear subpopulations.

If you oppose a new trophy hunt on our black bears, please take a few minutes to write the Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioners at Commissioners@MyFWC.com or call them at (850) 488-4676.

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Kate MacFall is the Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States.

7 Comments

    1. How many dogs, cats, and other pets are killed every year by the humane society? At least most hunters harvest all meat from their kills. Hunting is the best way to control over population. Bear proof garbage cans and knowledge of bears isn’t going to stop them from breeding. The FWC has biologists that do an estimation of the population of all game animals every year. These are scientists that care about animals and don’t just make up numbers to benefit hunters.

  1. This article targets ‘trophy hunters’. Those who enjoy hunting do so for a number of reasons including the challenge, the outdoor experience, predictory instint, trophies and…that many animals happen to make wonderful additions to gumbo, sausage and general table fair. Some choose to limit their diet to domesticated stock or even limit their diet to vegetative matter. While I consider the abstinence of animal protein as an oddity, I can respect those with the discipline and desire to engage in those restrictions.

    Indeed some may simply hunt black bears simply for sport, it’s likely most of the bears taken wind up being consumed in chili, breakfast sausage, bratwurst, gumbo, spaghetti sauce, sauce piquant, burritos, cube steaks, soup, summer sausage, meat balls, burgers, meatloaf, kebabs, goulash, tacos, stew, etc.

    Perhaps more important is that the revenue generated through the sale of of hunting licenses and the various taxes (including the Pittman-Robertson Act established in 1937) paid by hunters for ammunition, firearms, archery equipment, etc. is a primary driver of habitat maintenance.

    While the Humaine Society contributed an applaudable $31.5 million to the Direct Care and service of animals, sportsman contributed $2.9 billion.

    A distinction needs to be made between poachers, those who wrecklesly harvest without regard to legal and sound management practices, and hunters who respect the balance. No group does more to forward conservancy than hunters.

    Yes Bears can gereate an emotional response when depicted in quite pictures. They’re also fantastic in the sausage mix.

  2. I hunt I’m not a trophy hunter so how dare you classify all hunters in such a category….we hunt bears to extend wild life…..to control the herd…..have you ever been chased by a black bear…..have you had one climb up your ladder stand ? No be respectful of hunters we take animals for meat under God’s law who created us and the animals……your argument is not only stupid it’s invalid

  3. How many dogs, cats, and other pets are killed every year by the humane society? At least most hunters harvest all meat from their kills. Hunting is the best way to control over population. Bear proof garbage cans and knowledge of bears isn’t going to stop them from breeding. The FWC has biologists that do an estimation of the population of all game animals every year. These are scientists that care about animals and don’t just make up numbers to benefit hunters.

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