Wednesday, June 1, 2016

NRA wants Florida to continue, expand black bear hunt

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 12:46 PM

  • DGriebiling via Flickr creative commons
Surprise! The National Rifle Association and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida have come out in a letter supporting Florida's black bear hunt and asking that it be expanded. 

Marion Hammer, an NRA lobbyist, distributed the letter on behalf of the organizations to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, according to Political Fix Florida. The full letter, which the Tampa Bay Times put online, makes it sound like bears are roaming the streets of Florida while terrified people watch from inside their houses. Hammer writes: 

"For sometime we have raised concerns about the explosion in the bear population and the growing danger to human life as well as pets and property damage.

The growing number of bears intruding into suburban neighborhoods is creating danger for homeowners and has been evident for some time. There is no question that bears are attacking people, killing pets and doing property damage.

According to FWC Staff information, an average of 240 bears a year are being killed by motor vehicles while only 304 bears were killed during last years bear season.

It's time acknowledge the risks to public safety from vehicle crashes involving bears and the economic cost of subsequent injury and damage to passengers and vehicles caused by these crashes. Bear-proof garbage can programs will do nothing to keep bears off the roads and highways. Population reduction is the best and surest method of eliminating that problem.

While the anti-hunting groups decry the fact that 304 bears were killed in only two days, they apparently fail to acknowledge — perhaps purposely — that those statistics surely point to that fact that the bear population is probably far larger than current statistics indicate. Those numbers suggest a large and growing population of aggressive bears with no fear of humans thus posing a clear and present danger to humans and pets. Clearly, the number of hunting days and the number of permits should be increased.

Bears continue to terrorize homeowners and prevent families from allowing children to play outside in some areas (emphasis ours). And while FWC is working to educate people about securing trash and is trying to move dangerous bears out of residential areas, those programs are helpful but cannot succeed without hunts to reduce the population.

Continuing a liberal bear hunting season will help bring the bear population under control and help restore safety to families in areas where bears are prolific."
Last year, hunters killed 304 bears in the first two days of a week-long hunt, causing wildlife officials to end it abruptly. At the time, the FWC estimated the population was around 3,000 bears, but it now estimates the number of bears before the hunt occurred was about 4,350 adults. The FWC will decide whether they want to do a bear hunt this year at its June 22 meeting in Eastpoint.

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