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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tables 2017 black bear hunt

After suspending a trophy hunt of Florida’s black bears in 2016, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted today to table a hunt in 2017 as well. Kate MacFall, Florida State Director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement in response:

“We are thankful that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission did the right thing today by voting against a 2017 trophy hunt of Florida’s unique and rare black bears.  Floridians are strongly opposed to hunting our bears, and want to see them protected – not gunned down for trophies.”

Additional Background:

  • Florida’s black bears (Ursus americanus floridanus) are a unique and rare subspecies of the American black bear.
  • Prior to 2015, black bears had not yet recovered even as the state opened a trophy-hunting season on them.
  • Florida black bear biologists have noted that they require a system of hunt-free refuges and connectivity between subpopulations if they are to persist for future generations. Instead of those necessities, the Florida Wildlife Commission had opened a trophy hunting season on Florida black bears.

In the 2015 season, trophy hunters killed 304 Florida black bears. Of that figure, 60 percent were females (179 bears) and 21 percent of the females (38 mothers) were nursing cubs. Due to the cruel orphaning and subsequent death by starvation or predation of at least 80 cubs, there is no way that Florida’s black bear population could have recovered in just two years given that heavy toll on female bears. The 2015 hunt likely resulted in the mortality of nearly 400 bears, if cubs are included in the toll. 

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