Activists take to airways to quench Florida bear hunt

Group hopes to persuade Florida governor to stop legal bear hunting.

In an effort to stop an anticipated legal bear hunt in the state of Florida, local activists have taken to the airways to try to rouse the public into pressuring Governor Rick Scott to cancel the hunt, according to a story on wftv.com.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) is currently undergoing a series of webinars to determine if a bear hunt should be undertaken in 2016.  The commission is led by seven appointed commissioners, five of which were appointed by Governor Scott.  Additionally, Scott may use his authority as governor to disallow the hunt, even if the commissioners decide to proceed.

Local activist, Lee Day, has produced an ad to run on local cable stations, with pictures of Florida black bears and soft music playing in the background, followed by the sound of a gunshot.  The ad continues to play an audio clip of a dying bear, recorded by Day during the 2015 legal hunt in the state.  A voiceover appeals to viewers to contact the governor to put an end to the hunting of bears in Florida.

Day said, ““What we see is FWC is letting some people’s fear of bears to facilitate this hunt.  It is still possible to stop this hunt through Rick Scott,” he adds.  “The only way to stop the hunt is to have Rick Scott use his executive power to stop the hunt.”

According to FWC estimates, there are approximately 4,300 black bears within the state’s borders.  Back in 1974, the Florida black bear was designated by the state to be a threatened species, but as of 2012, the bears were removed from the listing.  The FWC authorized a state-wide hunt in 2015 that resulted in the killing of 298 bears by hunters.

In the justification for the 2015 hunt, the FWC said bear calls about human contact had increased by 400 percent over the previous 10 years, due to increased bear and human population.  The FWC plans to meet again in Eastpoint, FL, on June 22-23, with “bear management” listed on its agenda.

Governor Scott’s office released a statement saying, “It is for FWC to decide what is best for Florida’s growing bear population. Governor Scott trusts them to make the right decision to keep families safe.”

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