UPDATE: Last week the Florida FWC announced their most recent assessment for the Black Bear and decided the species increased its population to over 4,000 and are poised to allow for another bear hunting season. But that population report is being kept secret and some scientists think the bears may be on the brink of extinction, again. Click here to help us ban bear hunting in more counties and #StuntTheHunt.
Last week, Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced they had completed their first statewide Florida Black Bear assessment since 2002. They claim that the bear population has increased to 4,305 and declared the species to be "robust" and "growing."1 But the assessment was completed before last year's bear hunt that killed of over 600 bears -- including in two Bear Management Units (BMUs) where the number of bears taken vastly surpassed their quota -- and they have not released the report to the public or outside scientists to back up their claims.
The FWC is using this flawed info as evidence to consider another Black Bear hunt. This is not the first time we have seen the FWC draw conclusions that are bad for wildlife based on questionable science -- they justified last year's hunt without any population study at all, and were criticized by a state judge. Now they're claiming that bears across the state have experienced significant population increases. But their assessment doesn't factor in last year's hunt or the reports that both cubs and lactating mothers were killed.
I need to extended my stay in Florida and convince as many counties as possible to ban bear hunting before the FWC sanctions another hunt. We know this can work because we did it last month in Seminole County. As an added bonus, this weekend I'll travel to Florida Gulf Coast University where FWC Vice Chairwoman Liesa Priddy is speaking. The title of her talk is, "The Next Endangered Species," which is ironic considering we can't trust FWC to care for the bears (or panthers). Our plan is to confront Priddy directly about the population assessment, and demand to know if FWC will sanction another hunt before the public has a chance to get the answers it deserves.
Click here to donate and help us continue our work in Florida to get Black Bear Hunting banned statewide.
Thanks for standing with the bears,
Anthony and the Environmental Action Black Bear Brigade
1. Cordeiro, Monivette. Florida Black Bear Population "Robust." Orlando Weekly. March 25, 2016.
P.S. You can read my previous email about banning Black Bear hunting statewide below in case you need more context on our work to #StuntTheHunt.
Breaking: This week we scored a major victory in Seminole County Florida when County Commissioners voted unanimously to ban Black Bear Hunting. Donate here to help take our message to from county to county and ban a 2016 hunt before it starts.
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. You can help me on my quest to get our voice and pleas to as many County Commission that will listen by clicking here.
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.