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September 27, 2010

Florida Bears in Danger

bear cub in tree

iStockphoto

Although the Florida black bear is a threatened species, a handful of hunters are attempting to pressure state wildlife officials into initiating a black bear trophy hunt. Biologists believe that there once may have been as many as 12,000 black bears across Florida.

But the destruction of the bears' habitat for development, and habitat fragmentation due to road-building, combined with consistent hunting pressure, obliterated the species throughout most of the state.

The Florida black bear, a subspecies of the American black bear, was state-listed as a threatened species in 1974. Bear hunting was gradually restricted throughout the state, and was finally prohibited in 1994 by the Florida state legislature.

Hunters have unsuccessfully sued in the past to force a bear hunt on a state that wants them protected so the species can recover. In her ruling dismissing the lawsuit, the judge stated that “consideration of the public interest requires consideration of the public as a whole, not just the interests of hunters.”

Today, even after years of recovery efforts, it is estimated that there are only 1,500 to 3,000 black bears in Florida, living in only 17% of their historic range.

You can help!

With the release of a draft bear management by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, hunters are once again clamoring for a trophy hunt.

Please submit your comments today, asking the Commission to keep Florida's black bears protected.

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