After last year's disastrous black bear bloodbath, Anthony promised to go back to Florida and do everything he could to stop the hunt from happening again. He's still there, and in the last two weeks, he's won two amazing victories: First, he helped convince the Seminole County Commission to unanimously ban Black Bear Hunting. Then, just today, he teamed up with the Center for Biological Diversity and local partners to submit a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service asking them to re-list the bears as endangered and take authority away from the deeply misguided Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.*
Supporting the petition, Adrian Treves, who heads the University of Wisconsin’s Carnivore Coexistance Lab, said, “Scientists have an obligation to speak up when agencies are not using the best available science to protect our wildlife,... [M]ismanagement of the Florida black bear not only puts the bear at risk of extinction, but appears to violate state and federal trust.”
These are important victories, but they're only steps in the process to save the bears. To finally win and undo, in some measure, the damage caused by last year's hunt, we need to keep fighting and Anthony needs to stay in Florida. Can you chip in to take our message from county to county and ban a 2016 hunt before it starts?
Drew and the bear crew at Environmental Action
* Jenny Staletovich, Florida bears need federal protection, conservationists say, The Miami Herald, March 17, 2016
PS - Anthony's email from last week about the first victory -- the Seminole County Commission vote -- and our county-by county strategy is below in case you missed it.
Last year, we fought to convince Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) to #StuntTheHunt and save the Florida Black Bear. They didn't listen, and the result was a Black Bear Bloodbath that killed nearly 300 bears (that we know about) in less than two days.1 Worse yet, the FWC announced plans to make the hunt an annual event.
I was interviewed by NPR at a monitoring station during last year's hunt. While there, I saw the carnage first hand and made a bold promise to the interviewer: None of these bears died in vein because we will continue the fight to save these beautiful animals from extinction.2 I'm pleased to say that we made some progress earlier this week in Seminole County.
In an unprecedented decision, and after just one hour of testimony from our team, the Seminole County Commission unanimously agreed to draft an ordinance that will ban Black Bear hunting in their county. Following our victory I told the coalition of Bear Activists that I would extend my stay in Florida and help them get more counties to ban the bear hunt. But Florida is a big state, and I'm going to need your help to get to all these counties. Can I count on you to donate $10 or more to help me and my Bear banning team travel the state on a quest for Florida Black Bear Justice
The Seminole County Commissioners listened attentively to a range of activists, including an eight year old girl who took the day off from school just to make the case for a ban on bear hunting. We all explained that despite opposition from 75 percent of Floridians the FWC moved ahead with the hunt unilaterally.3 I warned that if counties like Seminole did not stand up to a runaway commission like FWC, Florida could be inviting federal intervention to keep the Florida Black Bear from being pushed back to the brink of extinction.4
Outside, basking in the glow of our victory, we were all amazed that we actually pulled it off! Then I came up with an idea — since we know that we can’t depend on the FWC to follow sound science or the will of Florida voters, what if we did this again and again in other counties to get as many hunting bans as possible?
That’s when I proclaimed to the coalition that I would extend my stay in Florida to start this process. It was a great day and with your help we can get even more justice for Florida’s Black Bear and keep this beautiful species around for years to come. Stay tuned for updates on my Florida travels coming soon, and thanks for standing with the bears. Click here to fund the quest for Florida Black Bear Justice and let's do all we can to Stunt the Hunt in 2016 and save the bears for generations to come.
Thanks for your bear care,
Anthony and the Environmental Action Black Bear Brigade
1. Shiffman, David. 298 Bears Killed in Florida Hunt That Ignored Science. The Washington Post. October 29, 2015.
2. Forhecz, Topher and Meszaros. Jessica. Advocate, Hunter Share Stories from Florida Bear Hunt. WGCU/NPRNews. October 26, 2015
3. MacFall Kate and Place, Jennifer. Florida Doesn't Need Bear Hunting. The Ledger.com. June 6, 2015.
4. Anthony Rogers-Wright: Seminole County Commission Testimony, March 8, 2016.