In advance of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's April 15 meeting, conservation and animal protection groups are calling on the FWC to vote down a proposal to open a trophy hunt on the unique subspecies of Florida black bears.
The FWC’s proposal would allow 275 Florida black bears to be killed annually, starting this fall. Opening a trophy hunt could harm the continued recovery of the Florida black bear, which was listed as a threatened species for decades until 2012 and still faces serious threats from habitat loss, genetic isolation and road mortality. Polling earlier this year showed that nearly two-thirds of Florida voters oppose a hunt.
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director for the Center for Biological Diversity said: “Florida black bears, a unique and distinct subspecies of American black bears, have persisted against all odds: illegal hunting, urban sprawl and busy highways. With less room to roam, it is no wonder there’s been an increase in bear sightings and interactions. It should be obvious—the problem is people, so our solutions should start with people.”
Kate MacFall, Florida state director for the HSUS, said: “The FWC is supposed to be guided by science while managing wildlife, but this proposal is devoid of scientific merit and scorns public opinion. Research shows that hunting bears deep in the woods does not solve the problem of bears drawn to available human food in neighborhoods. The FWC should reject a bear hunt and focus instead on proven strategies that have broad public support and teach bears to stay away from neighborhoods: bear-proof trash management, public education and code enforcement.”
Alexis Horn, organizing representative, Sierra Club Florida, said: “Hunting will not solve human-bear conflicts. Without updated population numbers and the science to prove that Florida's unique black bear population can withstand the cumulative effects of hunting, roadkill and euthanasia, no form of hunting should be considered. The focus should be on preventing human-bear conflicts in the first place.”
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- Media Relations