Update: After a hard fought campaign, the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) approved a hunt that killed over 300 bears. But our coalition has not backed down and we have new legislation in the works to protect the species from future bloodshed. Click here to make a donation and help us get this law passed to save Florida's Black Bears.
We have been in some hard fights together this year. I can honestly say that for me, the hardest was trying to stop FWC from approving an unnecessary and ill-advised bear hunt, or as I called it, a "Kill For Thrills Trophy Spree." I did my best to represent you at four separate FWC hearings, where our voices were heard, our pleas recorded and our resolve was displayed first hand.1
Unfortunately, FWC did not listen to the people of Florida, 75 percent of whom opposed the lifting the ban, and allowed bear hunting this Fall. I was on the scene firsthand to see the carnage, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever witnessed - I could barely compose myself during an NPR interview.2 In one weekend alone we lost over 300 bears and, in the process, may have severely damaged two Bear Management Units where more bears were taken than scheduled. The damage was so severe that FWC suspended the hunt after only two days even though it was supposed to last one week. And the worst part is just days after the hunt, FWC announced plans to do it again in 2016.3
The great psychologist Albert Bandura once said, "In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life." Through your signatures and generous donations you helped us do just that, and now we have a new weapon to save the bears.
Two Florida lawmakers just introduced a new bill that would implement non-lethal approaches to bear management. But if we're going to get this bill through the Florida Assembly, we're going to need all the help we can get. Please click here and make a donation to help implement bear saving legislation in Florida.
Getting this bill through the Florida Assembly will not be easy. It's very possible that Assembly Members and FWC Commissioners, some of whom took part in the bear hunt themselves6, will do all they can to block a bill that could threaten future hunting seasons. That's why we're going to have to do everything to promote SB 1096 on billboards, yard signs, flyers and even television and radio ads.
This bill represents a first step to help prevent this beautiful species from being placed back on the Endangered Species list. But if we're going to get it passed, we need everyone to lend a hand. Please chip in $15, $35 or whatever you can to support our ongoing effort to save the Florida Black Bears.
6. Pittman, Craig and Edds, Carolyn. Booming License Sales Show Florida May Have More Bear Hunters Than Bears. Tampa Bay Times. August 6, 2015.
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