▪ Humans intentionally fed bears
▪ Humans stored garbage in non-bear-proof containers in known bear habitat
▪ Pets attacked and enraged mother bears with cubs
None of these issues will be solved by a bear hunt. Yet the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) – which seems to have forgotten the “Conservation” part of their name with this issue – is proposing to open a hunting season on Florida black bears this October. This is despite their own biologists testifying that hunting will do nothing to deal with the public safety issue of bears wandering into neighborhoods.
We’re firmly against a bear hunt in Florida at this time. There ARE places in the United States, like northern New Jersey, where bears were reintroduced and now are a danger to humans because their population is out of control. A bear hunt makes sense there. Here in Florida, the Florida black bear was only removed from protected species status two years ago, after the first attack on a human.
We do not have an overpopulation of bears in Florida. We have an overpopulation of people in bear habitat. This is the issue that needs to be addressed. Hunting bears in the WMAs or National Forests will not solve the problem. Bear attacks will continue unless homeowners living in known bear habitat are forced to use bear-proof garbage cans. Unless these folks are taught to keep pet food indoors and to stop hanging bird feeders. Unless they adapt to the reality that their home is in the woods and behave properly. Sadly, most won’t unless they’re forced to by laws and fines and enforcement.
What can you do? April 15 is the next FWC commission meeting. Get your voice heard by calling, writing, or emailing the FWC in the next five days to share your opinion about Florida’s bears. Here’s a quick way to do so, via Florida Audubon.