Environmental, Animal Protection Groups Join Fight to Halt Florida’s Black Bear Hunt

Posted on September 25, 2015

Emergency Hearing to Stop Hunt Scheduled for Oct. 1

For immediate release:

Contact:

Patricia Jones, Paws PR: 718-651-7187 patricia@pawspr.com
Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190, jlopez@biologicaldiversity.org

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Local, state and national animal-protection and environmental organizations filed a “friend of the court” brief today in support of a lawsuit to stop the impending trophy hunt of Florida black bears, an iconic and rare Florida species with a long history of threats to its survival.

Despite overwhelming public opposition to the hunt, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission authorized the killing of 320 of the bears—an estimated 20 percent of the population—starting Oct. 24. The coalition is calling for the cancellation of the hunt, which would cause irreparable harm to an already fragile species and undermine decades of work to save the bears from extinction. The commission received more than 191,000 comments about the hunt—with more than 98 percent opposed.

The local, state and national organizations joining the legal action to stop the hunt include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Hero Kids, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, CompassionWorks International, Environmental Action, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Lobby for Animals, South Florida Wildlands, and Stop the Florida Bear Hunt. These organizations collectively represent the interests of more than 106,000 Floridians who care deeply about the Florida black bear and are vehemently opposed to its looming slaughter.

“Next month’s planned trophy hunt of the Florida black bear is nothing more than the misguided slaughter of an iconic Florida species,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “It will do little to reduce human-bear conflict, and threatens irreparable harm to the bear population and the Floridians who care about the bears’ future survival.”

“Florida black bears represent a wild and free Florida, and should be valued as treasures, not trophies,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “The hunt is ill-conceived and its administration has been poorly executed—the commission needs to take a step back before it’s too late for these bears.”

The coalition submitted its brief in support of plaintiffs Speak Up Wekiva, Inc. and Charles W. O’Neal, who recently brought an emergency motion to stop the hunt. A hearing on that motion is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the Leon County Circuit Courthouse, 301 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee.

Said Anthony Rogers-Wright, policy and organizing director of Environmental Action: “While unfortunate that it’s become necessary to turn to the courts to preserve Florida black bears, it is the result of a runaway commission that refuses to listen to the majority of Floridians who oppose this hunt, an incomplete scientific process bereft of integrity and no perception of objectivity. At this point, the right thing to do is suspend the sale of hunting permits.”

“Native species, like the Florida black bear, are losing ground to development and roads as our state’s human population continues to soar,” said Matthew Schwartz, executive director of South Florida Wildlands Association. “The best long-term solution is limiting growth to already urbanized areas, insuring adequate wildlife crossings on roads, and acquiring and maintaining sufficient public lands throughout the state so that wildlife and people can coexist into the future.”

“In Animal Hero Kids school presentations, the students voice their distress at this impending carnage in the woods,” said Susan Hargreaves, founder of the Florida-based Animal Hero Kids. “There is no way thousands of killers with guns, bow and arrows and dogs in ‘refuges’ can be watched; it will be a nightmare slaughter.”

“Not only is there insufficient scientific evidence that these bears have recovered, but the hunting proposal also inexplicably allows for cruel methods of take such as baiting and bear hounding, as well as the use of bows, crossbows, revolvers and muzzleloaders,” said Tara Zuardo, wildlife attorney at Animal Welfare Institute.

It is estimated that there are only 2,500 to 3,000 Florida black bears left, yet the commission has already sold more than 2,200 permits to kill the bears during the October hunt. Because the commission has not established a reliable reporting mechanism, its “quota” of 320 bears is a meaningless safeguard. In addition the commission’s own rules guarantee at least a two-day hunt, regardless of when the quota is met. For a population facing intensifying threats such as habitat degradation and mortality due to collisions with motor vehicles, the black bear hunt could be devastating.

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8 thoughts on “Environmental, Animal Protection Groups Join Fight to Halt Florida’s Black Bear Hunt

  1. Jim Roberts, M.D. says:

    It is estimated that there are only 2,500 to 3,000 Florida black bears left, yet the commission has already sold more than 2,200 permits to kill the bears during the October hunt. Because the commission has not established a reliable reporting mechanism, its “quota” of 320 bears is a meaningless safeguard. In addition the commission’s own rules guarantee at least a two-day hunt, regardless of when the quota is met. For a population facing intensifying threats such as habitat degradation and mortality due to collisions with motor vehicles, the black bear hunt could be devastating.

  2. lou ann says:

    we have 2500-3000 bears left ,why are you doing this for more money LISTEN TO THE POPE WE NEED TO CAEFOR ALL GOD PLACED ON THIS EARTH AND THAT SIR IS HIS GREAT ANIMAL KINGDOM !!!!

  3. Why kill the bears that are doing what they are suppose to do. This will not stop the neighborhood bears who have already learned bad habits from lazy humans. Living in colorado, bear garbage cans do work. For many years we lived with mountain lions, bears, deer even elk in our back yards, not even fences were allowed. We took their habitate, at least we should learn to live with them and share don’t be so selfish people have a heart.

  4. Pamela cousins says:

    I so proudly displayed my Florida license tag which stated Save Wildlife. Had a picture of the black bear on it. Paid the state extra for this tag. And now they are promoting this mass killing ?? We should be protecting these beautiful animals, managing our own garbage storage, Maybe take some wisdom from the Great Smoky National Park where they adore and protect their thousands of bears with millions of visitors each year.

    1. BJ says:

      You make a really good point..it’s so sad to think that our state would kill these beautiful bears as they are depicted on the license plate…what hypocrisy. Thanks for your post!

  5. JINNY LEE says:

    Spiritually and morally we are “all” obligated to be good stewards of this planet and that includes the survival of the black bears. Honor it.

  6. Mike Portnoy says:

    When ALDF, is done with Florida, could you take a look at NJ. The NJ Bear hunt, allows for baiting and Killing of Mothers and cubs. They are looking to increase the bear kill season as well. They want a return of 30% bear population. Never has the state done anything but lethal methods.

  7. Frances says:

    How do you know that if Orcas were were allowed to be free with their families that they would have problems?!! I’m sure the other Orcas would take take care of them–and definitely ugh better than greedy humans!

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