Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Black Bear Memorial at Lake Eola.

In 2015 a black bear hunt was authorized in Florida.  This was the  first bear hunt in Florida in 21 years.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set a quota of 320 bears despite the fact that a complete bear population study won’t be available until 2016.  It only took two days for the hunt to reach the Commissions limit.  The Florida black bear was removed from the threatened species list just three years prior to the hunt.  In response, bear advocates organized a memorial inspired in part by a you tube video by 5 year old Khendall.

The states Humane Society director Kate MacFall said, "This is a sad day for Florida’s black bears. This weekend, trophy hunters will take to the woods to kill our bears for rugs and taxidermied trophies. This hunt is completely unnecessary and it’s not supported by science or by public sentiment. Research overwhelmingly shows that hunting bears in the woods doesn’t reduce problems with bears in neighborhoods. The state would be better off helping citizens manage trash and outdoor food sources. Unfortunately for bears, most of Florida’s wildlife commissioners failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Floridians who publicly opposed the hunt."

At the Lake Eola band shell about 300 people gathered dressed in black to memorialize the bears that had been killed.  Advocates say that the hunt will affect the remaining bear population.  About one third of the bears killed were lactating mothers.  I was told that one hunter decided to bury a bear cub alive after he had killed the mother bear.  Those who attended the memorial want to fight to make sure Florida never does this again.

In 2016, the seven-member Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) voted to postpone bear hunting in Florida in 2016. Although the framework for bear hunting in Florida remains in place, there will be a zero hunt objective set for 2016, 2017, and 2018. The FWC "needed more time” to better explain itself and turn public opinion around. Driving out of New Smirna, I saw a bear crossing sign.  I find that odd since I have never seen a bear from any Florida Road. Having worked on the character of Koda in The Disney feature animated film "Brother Bear", I have a soft spot for bear cubs.

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