Monday, April 13, 2015

FWC to Discuss Bear Management at Commission Meeting

Copyright Carlton Ward, Jr.

Come tell the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to protect black bears!

What: FWC Commission Meeting - Bear Management: Agenda

When:   Tuesday, April 14th at 1:30 pm 
              Wednesday, April 15th at 8:30 am 
    Thursday, April 16th at 8:30 am

WhereAlfred Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center, FAMU
   1800 Wahnish Way
   Tallahassee, FL 32307

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be discussing bear management issues at their upcoming meeting, Tuesday through Thursday, this week in Tallahassee. Black bears were protected under the state's endangered species list for 38 years, until their removal from the list in 2012But bears face the threats of habitat loss, euthanasia, road kill, and now the prospect of hunting.

Copyright FWC
The Sierra Club Florida directly opposes any form of hunting for Florida black bears. In 2002, the FWC estimated that there were between 2,500 and 3,000 bears in Florida, but without a current population estimate, there is no scientific support to show that bear populations could sustain a hunt. A population study is currently underway, but will not be complete until the autumn of 2016. The Club believes that the discussion of hunting should not be broached until this study is complete. Most importantly, bear hunting will not reduce human-bear conflicts; targeting bears in rural areas will have no impact on suburban bears that are looking for food. 

The lynchpin in solving human-bear conflicts is the management of trash and other attractants, and enforcement of preventing humans feeding bears. Recent bear attacks have occurred due to improperly secured trash receptacles and the active feeding of wild bears. Bear-proofing trashcans and enforcing laws against feeding bears will have a much greater impact on reducing human-bear conflicts than hunting. 

The Sierra Club is also concerned with the plan to remove the permit processes for hazing bears with slingshots or paintball guns. Anyone implementing these techniques should only do so after completing training and going through a permit process. 

FWC's presentations on the changes to the bear management plan can be found here

Come and speak on behalf of the bears, and if you can't make the meeting, you can email your commissioners here, or fill out the bear comment form