This weekend's bear hunt in Florida was a slaughter, just as we'd feared. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has shut down the hunt, but we need your help to find and rescue what could be hundreds of orphaned bear cubs put at risk by the hunt. Chip in hear to help us save a baby bear, and keep fighting the cruel bear policies of Florida.
Last weekend was supposed to be the beginning of a week-long Black Bear hunting season in Florida. Hunting was previously banned due to a dangerously low population of Florida Black Bears – they were only taken off a federal endangered species watch-list three years ago. However, earlier this year the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) voted to lift the 20 year ban in an effort to “manage the bear population.”
After we helped pack a series of hearings, gathered tens of thousands of petitions and funded a lawsuit opposing this arbitrary and capricious hunt, Floridians and tourists began killing bears as early as 8:00 a.m. this past Saturday. I arrived at one of the hunter check-in stations early that morning as part of a volunteer corps to ensure hunters were complying with the rules, which included a prohibition on using dogs to track bears and using bait to lure them. I thought I would be prepared to observe the carnage as hunters brought in bears to be weighed and measured … but I thought very wrong.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has shut down the hunt, but we need your help to find and rescue what could be hundreds of orphaned bear cubs put at risk by the hunt. Chip in here to help us save a baby bear, and keep fighting the cruel bear policies of Florida. Click here to see my report-back video and chip in to help, or scroll down for more details and links to further reporting.
The bears really did not have much of a chance. By Friday, over 3,700 hunting permits were sold – which is more than the estimated number of bears in the entire state. In our court case, the FWC assured the judge that hunter success rates would be low, essentially guessing that most hunters would fail to find or kill a bear. Sadly, they were wrong, we were right, and this weekend was a black bear bloodbath. Click here to see my full report in the blog.
On the first day alone nearly 300 bears were killed, and the FWC closed the hunt Sunday afternoon when their failure became impossible to ignore. Even FWC officials admitted that the number of bears killed in the central and northeastern parts of the state were unprecedented with FWC Hunting and Game Director conceding, “We underestimated the hunters success for the first two days in two bear management units.”
Perhaps most disturbing, reports are coming in that as many as one third of bears killed were lactating females. If this is accurate, it means hundreds of cubs could have been left to fend for themselves without food and protection. If we don’t do something for these cubs, the total number of dead bears will soar even higher. That’s why our next step is to assist with a statewide cub search and rescue process with our friends at Speak Up Wekiva, Center for Biological Diversity and other Florida groups.
I know many of you have chipped in to support the lawsuit and other efforts to save the bears. We're so grateful for your support, and having seen it first hand I share many of your frustrations that this unnecessary and poorly planned hunt was allowed to continue. But we need your help to find and care for as many orphaned cubs as we can, before it's too late. Please chip in $15, $35 or whatever you can to support our ongoing effort to save the Florida bears.
Anthony and the Florida Black Bear Witness team at Environmental Action
PS - There are links to lots more news articles, photos and video - not all of it pretty to see - in my blog post at Environmental Action's website. After you donate, or if you're unable to help financially right now, will you check it out and share with your networks online?