April 13, 2015: WELCOME TO FLORIDA–Where We Kill Our Natives

~by Susi Pittman

Before Florida was settled by Europeans, Florida black bears, a true Florida native, occupied all of the Florida mainland, and even many of the Florida Keys, with a population around 12,000 bears. This population had been decimated through hunting to a mere 300 bears by the 1970’s with most of the bears living in the Ocala National Forest. The Florida Black Bear received help at that time and for the past 38 years was listed as an endangered species, receiving state protection. In 1994, the Florida State Legislature outlawed the hunting of the Florida Black Bear.

On June 27, 2012 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) delisted the Florida Black Bear from the state threatened species list. Successful conservation of the Florida black bear was confirmed by the FWC’s 2011 Biological Status Review, which reported the bear to be no longer at high risk of extinction. Today, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission there is an estimated 3,000 bears in Florida, most living in protected areas. The bears have hardly made a come-back from a population of 12,000.

Therein lies the decision. The FWC says too many nuisance calls, means too many bears. The FWC reports that thousands of bear-related calls are made to them annually as more bears come into conflict in the ever-expanding highly suburban populations of Florida. These incidents in large part occurred because someone was intentionally interacting with a bear, be it hitting it with something, trying to hand feed the bear or even leaving food out for the bears. Serious incidents are low. Bears just did not become bold and aggressive on their own without the help of people.

Since 2009, 11 bears have been intentionally euthanized because of human-bear conflict. Over that same period, nearly 1,000 bears have been killed by automotive vehicles.

WHY the heck do we need a state sponsored bear hunting season? Aren’t we doing enough to eliminate the poor creature as it is?

I think the “idiot quote of the day” regarding this sanctioned hunting came from FWC official, Diane Eggeman who stated; Florida is the only state that has over 600 bears that doesn’t allow bear hunting.

God forbid that we step outside the mainstream of the other kill forces in this country and continue to protect our valuable Florida wildlife, Diane!

For all its public show, I believe that the FWC had it predetermined in their minds that they were bringing back the hunt. A death knell has sounded from the FWC for a good portion of the bear population.

Next week they put forth their recommendations and options for controlling Florida’s bear population. That plan is to open four sections of Florida to a seven-day bear hunt in October. Hunters would be allowed to take 275 bears the first year. In their own words:

The main purpose is to stem the population growth, to get that under control,” said Diane Eggeman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which will discuss the issue at a meeting Tuesday in Tallahassee. “All the indicators that we have say the population is increasing. (And) hunting is the best population control method we have.

This woman is a jewel in the FWC cap and sure to get her promotion.

Isn’t that the answer to everything wild these days?

  1. Be sure to create a media storm on a growing and dangerous wild population
  2. Create a PR smoke-screen campaign to appear concerned for a study and humane solution
  3. Finally, deliver need for elimination, pushing the over-hyped human issues

It is a premature rush to a sad and pathetic end. Truly a shame and a sham in the making.

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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