Hunters Pay For Chance To Kill Rare Florida Black Bear
Trophy hunters, get out your guns! It is time to go rare bear hunting! For the first time in over 20 years, Florida has authorized a black bear hunt for its ownsubspecies, Florida black bears. These bears cannot be found anywhere else on earth and were on the endangered list until just 2012. Environmental groups filed an emergency brief to stop or at least slow that hunt, but they are squaring off with the greedy Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Florida’s open season on black bears begins Saturday, October 24th and will continue until 320 bears are killed. The state estimates that 3,000 live in Florida’s wilderness. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued more than 2500 permits thus far, and these permits earned the state an estimated $300,000.
The brief, led by the Animal Defense Legal Fund and the Center for Biological Diversity, contends that the number of permits should not be unlimited. It reads:
“The trial court wholly adopted the FWC’s counsel’s promise that the FWC has a ‘safety valve’ to cancel the hunt should it go awry. The problem, however, is that the rule cited by the FWC contains no such procedure.”
Black bears were on the state’s protected species list until 2012. According to biological estimates, wild Florida Black Bears currently number approximately 3,000, although a full scientific bear population study will not be completed until 2016. The director of the Florida branch of the Humane Society Of The United States,Kate MacFall, issued this statement:
“This is a sad day for Florida’s black bears. This weekend, trophy hunters will take to the woods to kill our bears for rugs and taxidermied trophies. This hunt is completely unnecessary and it’s not supported by science or by public sentiment. Research overwhelmingly shows that hunting bears in the woods doesn’t reduce problems with bears in neighborhoods.
“The state would be better off helping citizens manage trash and outdoor food sources. Unfortunately for bears, most of Florida’s wildlife commissioners failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Floridians who publicly opposed the hunt.”
These bears face threats including genetic isolation from other bears, habitat loss, and road kills. Experts estimate that 600 bears, including the hunt quota, will be killed this year. Can Florida kill of 20 percent or more of its black bears and expect them to survive?
The answer is no. But Rick Scott will be happy with $300,000 or so jingling in his pocket.