On April 15, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will issue its decision about whether or not it will open up bear hunting in the state. Florida hasn't allowed bear hunting in 20 years, but recent interactions between humans and bears (see: Bear enters home, eats Easter candy
, bear bites woman on arm
, woman walking dog attacked by bear
) have the agency considering allowing a limited season on bears beginning as early as October. The FWC says it would allow hunters to take up to 275 bears during the season as a way of keeping the population in control.
Activists, including the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, are staunchly opposed to the proposal, and they're trying to get citizens to let the FWC know that they don't approve. Yesterday, ARFF hung a giant banner over I-4 near the overpass at Conroy Road during morning rush hour that read “TELL FWC - NO BEAR HUNT.” ARFF says that the FWC has not done a statewide count of wild black bears for 13 years, so opening up hunting based on anecdotal evidence makes no sense.
“So, let me get this straight: because some Florida black bears are coming to eat human garbage in neighborhoods, the state now wants to open a trophy hunt to kill 275 bears a year?” asked ARFF coordinator Bryan Wilson. “It’s just not adding up. Putting effort into teaching neighbors how to live safely with bears makes sense and no one looses their life. Education is the answer, not senseless killings for trophy.”
ARFF joins other organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, in opposing the FWC's proposal.
"The best available science overwhelmingly demonstrates that bear hunting does not reduce human-bear conflicts or make people safer," Kate MacFall, Florida director for the HSUS said in a statement about the matter recently. "Instead of making a mockery of science and public sentiment, The FWC should heed the majority of Floridians who want the commission to stop bowing to the pressure of a vocal minority of trophy hunters."