An ad urging viewers to call Gov. Rick Scott and tell him to "stop killing our bears" is making its way around the web hours before wildlife officials are set to hear the public's opinion on another black bear hunt.
Lee Day says his group, "It's Rick Scott's Hunt," is made up of environmental and animal advocates trying a new tactic to stop the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission from approving the return of Florida's controversial black bear hunt this year —reaching out to Floridians through their screens.
"We're trying to fight the battle at the FWC meetings, but by not reaching the general public, we're losing this fight," he says.
The FWC is considering the hunt at its June 22 meeting in Eastpoint. Last October, hunters killed 304 bears of the estimated statewide population of 3,000 in the first two days of a week-long hunt, causing wildlife officials to end it abruptly. Scott, who appoints people to the FWC and had the power to stop the October hunt, decided not to intervene. The FWC now estimates the number of bears before the hunt occurred was about 4,350 adults.
The ad coincides with public webinars the FWC is holding to discuss bear management. The webinars will be held May 26, May 31 and June 2 at 6 p.m., and you can sign up to participate here.
Speak Up Wekiva director and black bear activist Chuck O'Neal says he saw friends posting the ad on Facebook and called it "powerful."
"I think it's appropriately pointing the finger at Rick Scott," he says. "He could have stopped it with the stroke of a pen."
Day says he also paid $4,000 to Bright House Networks to air the ad on News 13, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News starting May 25 and ending May 31. Orlando Weekly reached out to Bright House Networks to confirm, but we have not received a response. Day says if the group secures enough funding, they plan to run ads in Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and throughout the state until the proposed hunt starts.
"Our main goal is to get people to call Rick Scott," he says. "We want to jam his phone lines from here until he stops the hunt."