UPDATE: When asked a direct question about whether or not there will be a Florida Black Bear Hunt, FWC Vice Chairwoman Liesa Priddy dodged the question. We can't afford to be caught off-guard by this runaway agency. Click here to call on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to place the Florida Black Bear on the Endangered Species List before FWC sanctions another hunt.
Last year, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) ignored 75 percent of Floridians when they permitted an ill-advised and unnecessary Florida Black Bear Hunt. FWC gave a dizzying range of reasons for the hunt: They said bears were a threat to public safety, which we debunked by proving that non-lethal management approaches like bear proof containers are more effective than hunts. Then they claimed the hunt was needed to control the black bear population, which was outrageous because a statewide population assessment had not been completed since 2002, meaning they had no idea what the population was at the time.
Last week the FWC finally released a Black Bear population assessment, and just like many of their conclusions it is based on shoddy science. For one thing, the methodology for this report is to place raspberry donuts next to barbed wire, and then count the tufts of bear fur left behind.1 And then, there's the timing of the report, specifically that it was conducted BEFORE last year's Black Bear Bloodbath. If the FWC bases their rationale for a hunt on this report, it could hasten the extinction of this iconic, lovely species.
But if that's what FWC is thinking, they're not talking about it. This past weekend we asked FWC Vice Chairwoman Liesa Priddy a direct question about whether FWC is planning a hunt and she refused to answer the question or any questions related to FWC.3 The funny thing is, she was giving a talk entitled, "The Next Endangered Species." If we don't act now, the next endangered species may very well be the Florida Black Bear.
That's why we've joined 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.4 If we get the Florida Black Bear re-listed, it would immediately prevent FWC from having a hunt this year.5 Will you click here to add your name the growing list of Black Bear activists calling for Federal protection?
We cannot trust the fate of the Florida Black Bear in the hands of FWC -- time and time again they have proven that they cannot be trusted to preserve the species. Last year, I warned FWC that if they moved forward with the hunt, they would be inviting Federal intervention.6 Now, after a year of shoddy science and over-quota hunts run by this runaway commission, that's exactly what needs to happen.
Click here to join the growing chorus of bear lovers everywhere demanding the United States Fish and Wildlife Service intervene by re-listing the Florida Black Bear on the Endangered Species List.
Thanks for standing with the bears,
Anthony and the Environmental Action Black Bear Brigade
1. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: Preliminary Estimates Black Bear Population Size and Density Apalachiola, Big Cypress and Elgin Study Areas, Florida
2. Environmental Action, Leise Priddy responds to questions, Facebook
3. Shiffman, David. 298 Bears Killed in Florida Hunt that "Ignored Science." The Washington Post. October 29, 2015.
FWC Investigating Laws Broken During Bear Hunt. www.abc-7.com. October 26, 2015.
Forhecz, Topher and Meszaros, Jessica. Advocate, Hunter Share Stories from Florida Bear Hunt. WGCUNews. October 26, 2015.
4. News Service of Florida. Federal Protection Sought for Black Bears. News 4 Jax. March 18, 2016.
5. Fleshler, David. Florida Plans Second Bear Hunt. Sun Sentinel. October 26, 2015.
6. Rogers-Wright, Anthony. Florida Wildlife Commission Offers BEAR Minimum. Environmental Action. September 4, 2015.