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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Conservation group files emergency motion to block Florida’s bear hunt

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 4:26 PM

  • Photo by Jitze Couperus via Flickr

Florida’s scheduled black bear hunt is a little more than a month away, yet opponents are still fighting the battle in court.

Speak Up Wekiva Inc., a conservation group based in Seminole County, has filed an emergency motion to stop the hunt starting on Oct. 24 and accelerate its case against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The motion says that due to an “arbitrary and capricious” rule, licensed hunters would be allowed to kill an unlimited number of Florida black bears during the first two days of the week-long hunt that ends Oct. 30. The group fears that this rule, combined with the fact that 2,055 licenses have been sold so far, would allow hunters to legally surpass the FWC’s quota of 320 bears.

The emergency motion says the rules allow "for the sale of an unlimited number of permits to hunt bears and allows each hunter to kill one bear for the first two days of the week long hunt regardless of how many bears are taken in the bear management unit and regardless of how many bears are taken statewide." 

The group is deriving this conclusion from FWC rules it included in its motion, which state: "If a [Bear Management Unit’s] harvest objective, established pursuant to subparagraph 2., is attained prior to the season close and on or after the second day of the season, that BMU's season shall close at 11:59 p.m. on the day its harvest objective is attained.”

A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott told the News Service of Florida Tuesday that the governor would not step in to block the hunt. 

"It is for FWC to decide what is best for Florida's growing bear population," Scott spokesman John Tupps said in an email. "Gov. Scott trusts them to make the right decision to keep families safe."

Speak Up Wekiva is joining other conservation and animal groups on Thursday, Sept. 24, at Lake Eola to hold a press conference and rally against the bear hunt.

An FWC memo outlines the estimated bear population in each of four regions and establishes "harvest objectives" for the hunt.
  • An FWC memo outlines the estimated bear population in each of four regions and establishes "harvest objectives" for the hunt.

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