“Stop the Hunt” activists plan statewide protests against black bear hunt


Animal advocates from across Florida say they’ve organized a statewide protest against a bear hunt that officials have scheduled for Oct. 24 to 30.

“We think there are other ways to solve this problem,” says Adam Sugalski, the campaign’s director.

“Killing is not conservation. We need to protect these animals and find other nonlethal solutions,” he said.

Sugalski says coordinated protests will take place on Oct. 23 in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee and St. Augustine.

In June, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a statewide hunt on black bears as a way to thin the population. Urban sprawl has brought more bears into close contact with humans across Florida in recent years.

On its website, the FWC says the Florida black bear is not a state-designated threatened species. It had been listed as such until 2012.

“Hunting is one of many tools that can be used in concert with others to meet bear management objectives,” according to the site. “Hunting can relieve pressure on bear populations in certain areas, which could reduce the amount of bears in suburban and urban areas.”

However, Sugalski says the Humane Society of the United States and The Center for Biological Diversity have publicly stated their concern about the hunt and presented multiple scientific studies showing that hunting is not an effective population management tool.

The October hunt is Florida’s first in 20 years. More than 1,000 permits have already been sold.

Melissa Ross

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Daily Kumquat

    August 30, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    There will also be a protest at the Umatilla Black Bear Festival on October 10th. It is truly grotesque for the FWC and its partners at the annual event to claim to be celebrating our wilderness just two weeks before declaring war on a keystone species that has not killed anyone in Florida.

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