A new statewide survey reveals Florida 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.  Nearly two-thirds of Florida voters (61 percent) said they oppose a bear hunting season, while only 25 percent support it.

By more than a 7-to-1 margin, Florida voters also oppose allowing hunters to use packs of dogs to chase bears (84 percent to 11 percent). In addition, 78 percent oppose the use of bait to lure bears; both of these practices are used in other states and could be included in a proposal to open a bear hunting season.

Kate MacFall, Florida state director for the HSUS, said: “Research shows that trophy hunting does nothing to reduce problems with bears. Killing bears deep in the woods who aren’t causing problems is the wrong approach. Voters want humane, effective solutions to conflicts with bears, such as bear-wise trash management, hazing and public education.” 

On Feb. 4, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will consider reopening a black bear trophy hunting season for the first time in 20 years. Florida’s unique subspecies of black bear was removed from the state’s threatened species list in 2012 and has only recently rebounded. The proposal is in response to recent human-bear conflicts, but a hunt won't solve the problem. The high-profile bear incidents have all happened in areas where people have been responsible for attracting bears to human food sources. In one Seminole County case, three people were charged with illegally feeding bears. In the Panhandle town of Eastpoint, the FWC reported that bears had been eating from the nearby open dumpster on an almost nightly basis.

The poll confirms Floridians overwhelmingly favor educational outreach programs (84 percent to 11 percent) to further reduce human-bear conflicts and community programs that help provide bear-proof cans to residents (81percent to 14 percent).  Furthermore, 87 percent of those polled agree that neighborhoods located near areas where bears live have a responsibility to avoid attracting the animals by securing their garbage and other foods.

The poll of 1,664 statewide Florida voters was conducted by Remington Research Group from Jan.26-27, 2015. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percent. The survey was commissioned by The Humane Society of the United States.

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