Last year the Florida FWC sanctioned an ill-advised and unwanted hunt of the Florida Black Bear - leading to the death of more than 300 bears. Click here to call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put the Florida Black Bear back on the Endangered Species List and save this iconic species from the Florida FWC and extinction.
Last year, we fought together to protect the beautiful and iconic Florida Black Bear from being hunted. But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) defeated us, and allowed the hunt to go forward, robbing Florida of 300 Black Bears. The FWC allowed the hunt to go forward despite statewide opposition of 75 percent of Floridians, and despite not completing a population assessment.1 The hunt was so bloody that it was called off after just two days, even though the season was scheduled to be one week long -- and two bear management units exceeded their allotted quota, possibly resulting in irreparable harm.
I was in Florida for the hunt to act as a civilian monitor at two of the check-in stations. It turns out that even with an army of bear activists across the state, the rules we're still broken as multiple reports came in of hunters killing cubs and nursing mothers and, in some cases, even baiting bears.2 This tragedy was the inevitable result of a hunt that was not based on sound science, using loosely developed and administered rules. The Black Bear Blood Bath of 2015 proves that FWC cannot be trusted to ensure the safety and survival of the Florida Black Bear.
That's why last week we joined our friends at Center for Biological Diversity, Speak Up Wekiva, League of Women Voters Florida and others to petition the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to put the Florida Black Bear back on the Endangered Species List.3 If we get the Florida Black Bear re-listed, it would immediately prevent FWC from having a hunt this year as they've indicated they're planning to do.4 But we need to get as many people supporting this effort to get the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) attention and President Obama's. Will you click here to add your name the growing list of Black Bear activists calling for Federal protection?
The FWC is a runaway commission. Last year, I warned FWC that if they moved forward with the hunt, they would be inviting Federal intervention.5 They refused to listen, just like they refused to listen to the 75 percent of Floridians who opposed the hunt. But if we get USFWS to re-list the bear, FWC will be forced to listen and speed up the process of completing an up-to-date population assessment.
I've extended my stay in Florida to try and convince as many counties as possible to impose a ban on Black Bear hunting, like we did two weeks ago in Seminole County. I'll continue touring the state, but getting USFWS to re-list the bear would be faster and more effective. If we don't act fast, FWC could allow another hunting season to occur without even knowing how many bears are left. During the hunt last year, I vowed that none of the bears that were massacred by kill-for-thrills hunters died in vain.6
I plan on keeping that promise and hope that I can count on you to help me keep it. Click here to tell USFWS to stop the madness and re-list the Florida Black Bear before it's too late.
Thanks for sounding off,
Anthony for 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. FWC Investigating Laws Broken During Bear Hunt. www.abc-7.com. October 26, 2015.
3. News Service of Florida. Federal Protection Sought for Black Bears. News 4 Jax. March 18, 2016.
4. Fleshler, David. Florida Plans Second Bear Hunt. Sun Sentinel. October 26, 2015.
5. Rogers-Wright, Anthony. Florida Wildlife Commission Offers BEAR Minimum. Environmental Action. September 4, 2015.
6. Forhecz, Topher and Meszaros, Jessica. Advocate, Hunter Share Stories from Florida Bear Hunt. WGCUNews. October 26, 2015.