Protests of bear hunt planned in 28 cities
Jacksonville among cities that will protest another black bear hunt in state
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Conservationists, animal advocates, and other grassroots activists will gather in over 28 cities across Florida, including Jacksonville, on June 18 to protest the state's bear hunts.
The advocates insist that last fall’s hunt, which ended with more than 300 bears killed, proceeded despite widespread objection from citizens, scientists and local leaders.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was expected to announce a decision at its March meeting in Jupiter on whether to allow another bear hunt, but FWC officials pushed the issue to their June meeting, which will take place in Apalachicola.
Nearly 3,800 permits were sold to kill 320 bears. The official tally from last October’s hunt was 304 killed bears. The hunt was halted after 48 hours because it was clear that Bear Management Units were quickly exceeding their quotas.
The FWC has released updated bear population data, but the information was collected prior to the hunt so it does not take into account bears officially or unofficially killed as part of the hunt.
The Florida Wildlife Federation has stepped up and recorded its opposition to a 2016 bear hunt.
In addition, six counties -- Seminole, Volusia, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Miami-Dade and Alachua -- and fourteen cities -- St. Pete, Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, Davie, Deltona, Clermont, South Miami, Biscayne Park, Safety Harbor, Eustis, North Port and Palmetto Bay -- have all passed resolutions or proclamations opposing the bear hunt.
But the authority of the FWC surpasses local ordinances.
According to animal advocates, in addtion to the 304 bears killed in the hunt last year, another 243 were killed by vehicles and 129 were killed by the FWC. They said those numbers do not include ccubs orphaned by the hunt or deaths by natural causes.
The advocates assert that bears need attractant control, not population control. They said affordable bear-proof trash cans in human/bear conflict areas are necessary.
“Instead of another bear hunt, we need beefed up enforcement and stiffer fines for people that feed bears directly or leave attractants such as unsecured trash, bird feeders, fallen fruit or pet food accessible to bears,” the advocates said in a news release announcing the protest.
The Stop the Florida Bear Hunt campaign is led by OneProtest, based in Jacksonville, which launched last fall to organize the movement to stop the hunt.
Founder Adam Sugalski brought international attention to the story, getting coverage from The Guardian newspaper in the UK, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, among others.
The Stop the Florida Bear Hunt community has a membership of over 40,000. They will protest in the following cities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 18:
- Boca Raton
- Fernandina Beach
- Fort Myers
- Lake Mary
- Orange City
- Ormond Beach
- St. Augustine
- St. Petersburg
The Jacksonville protest will be at Riverside Park.
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