Florida’s black bears get a one year reprieve from hunting after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 4-3 to suspend hunts while it gathered more information about bear populations in the state. Last year’s hunt, the first in 21 years, resulted in the death of some 300 bears in two days.
AWI testified at the commission’s June hearing, imploring it to vote against a hunt because of concerns about the status of Florida’s black bear population, which just a few years ago had been listed as threatened under the state endangered species law. In our testimony, we emphasized the cruelty of the hunt the previous year, when 21 percent of the bears killed were lactating mothers—potentially leaving nursing cubs to starve. We also stressed that there are many proven, nonlethal management options available to prevent bear-human conflicts.
Following the testimony, the commission vote on whether to allow the hunt was tied, at 3 in favor and 3 against—at which point Chairman Brian Yablonski cast the deciding vote against, sparing the bears for now.