The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to forego its controversial black bear hunt, promising to revisit the issue in 2017. Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement:
“Florida residents spoke in overwhelming numbers that they don’t want a trophy hunt, and the commission did the right thing and heeded their sentiments. We hope today’s important action signals a shift to humane, effective bear management in the Sunshine State. Public education, trash management and other non-lethal methods are more effective and humane than trophy hunting. We thank Commissioners Bergeron, Rivard, Spottswood and Yablonski for listening to the mass of public opinion favoring more humane management.”
The Florida black bear was on the state’s threatened species list less than four years ago, and the species continues to face serious threats from road mortality, habitat loss and documented genetic isolation from other bear sub-populations. Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission opened up a trophy hunt for the first time in twenty years, setting the quota of 320 bears despite the absence of a complete bear population study. A 2015 statewide survey revealed that in Florida nearly two thirds of voters strongly oppose the trophy hunting of black bears in the state, with strong majorities in every demographic group and political affiliation supporting continued protection for Florida black bears.