Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Come Speak Out Against FWC's Assault on Wildlife

It’s time to speak up for Florida's largest wildlife - black bears and panthers! 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission needs to hear from you loudly at its next meeting in Sarasota.

This two-day FWC meeting in Sarasota starts with a discussion of delisting the panther from the endangered species list and adoption of a plan to allow Florida black bear hunting.June 24.


Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting

When:   Day 1: Tuesday, June 23 - Panther Agenda 
              1:30pm

Day 2: Wednesday, June 24 - Bear Agenda
8:30 a.m

Where:  Hyatt Regency Sarasota
              1000 Boulevard of the Arts
              Sarasota, Florida 34236

To RSVP, contact Alexis Horn at: Alexis.Horn@sierraclub.org and write "I'll be there" in the subject line and include your contact information.


Background:

Panthers

The FWC wants to relax the delisting criteria for Florida panthers put forward by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They claim panthers have exceeded their carrying capacity in their only breeding habitat, and that the criteria of three populations of 240 individuals is unrealistic. They have also stated that they will do nothing to move panthers north of the Caloosahatchee River (the northern most border for the breeding population), until all depredation and human-panther conflicts are solved.

Sierra Club Florida believes this is an incredibly short-sighted agenda, given that panthers are considered a critically endangered species, protected under the Endangered Species Act. With populations at 100-180 individuals, panthers are nowhere near flourishing, and with increased threats of vehicle collisions (13 of 18 deaths for 2015), and now shootings (2 in the last year and a half), panthers are still under threat. While the population has increased from 20-30 individuals in the 1990's, they are nowhere near a healthy, stable population. Increased human-panther interactions are mainly due to loss of habitat. With the majority of their primary habitat under threat of development, panthers are forced into areas with new homes and an increased human population. Protecting habitat and learning to live with panthers is of the utmost importance, and where FWC should be focusing their efforts - not on an agenda that will lead to the panthers demise. We have worked so hard to bring this species back from the brink of extinction, and now FWC wants to prevent any further success in saving an endangered species.

Bears

The FWC's stance against black bears is an egregious response to human-bear conflicts. Due to increased interactions with black bears, FWC has proposed to open hunting on a species that was protected as a threatened species just two years ago. Without the complete population study for bears that would be released in fall 2016, this justification is a hasty response to managing the population. Numerous studies have shown that human-bear interactions will not be quelled by opening hunting. Hunting will target bears in rural areas, and have no impact in suburban and urban areas where these conflicts exist. 

We need as many people as can come to attend this two-day hearing! We need Florida activists and wildlife lovers to have their voices heard! The agency in charge of protecting the state's wildlife is not upholding their appointed positions, and instead catering to a few who want these species open for trophy hunting.