February 2, 2015: When in Doubt…Just Kill the Darn Thing!

~by Susi Pittman

Welcome to Florida where the urban mentality on handling natural fauna whose populations are being encroached upon by human expansion is just kill it! The current creature on the “bad boy” list is the Florida black bear. Recent bear attacks over the past year, due mostly to females and their cubs scavenging for food in populated areas. This increase in complaints to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) from Florida’s larger populated areas is forcing FWC to step up and manage bear control with what can only be called a “knee-jerk” reaction to political pressure.

On a national scale, 32 out of 41 states allow their black bear populations to be hunted and FWC is being pressured into making Florida number 33.

This week in Jacksonville, Florida, the FWC will be presented with proposed changes to the state’s bear-management strategies, including an option to allow a hunt of the state’s largest native land mammal.

FWC Director, Thomas Eason has stated: Hunting is one tool in our toolbox. We don’t think hunting is going to be the solution to the conflicts. We do see it as a tool to reduce the overall number of bears as appropriate.

At the turn of the 20th century, Florida’s black bear population was at 11,000+ bears, but had dwindled to only less than 500 by the mid 1970’s when the Florida black bear was listed as an endangered species. To their credit FWC management has helped to see the bear population rebound to over 3,000 and in 2012 the FWC adopted a bear management plan that did NOT include hunting.

There is NO record of anyone, ever in the state of Florida being killed by a black bear.

The Humane Society of the United States responded with what I think was for sure the MOST rational approach to our Florida bears: A trophy hunt is missing the mark. If you go into the woods and kill bears minding their own business, that doesn’t really address the bears causing problems in suburban neighborhoods. The real issue is trash management.

Sportsman’s alliances are lined up to support the bear hunting. Ocala National Forest and the Rock Springs Run State Reserve would be on the list for the first open killing grounds. One Florida bear hunter stated: I want a bear season, yes, but I don’t want it to be a bloodbath. Is that an “oxymoron” or just a moron.

The FWC is and has been in the midst of a bear population study which has not yet been completed. If for that reason alone, the decision on the Florida bear should be forestalled.

A fundamental truth that all of us need to remember is that we are part of that greater whole of creation. If we as stewards could see that we are intimately connected with our fellow creatures, destruction would not be an option. We share a common heritage and all live and have being as part of an integral whole. Going beyond our personal needs brings an imbalance and ultimately a poverty for the whole of creation in the affected area.

Please sign this petition to support banning trophy hunting HERE.

Or contact the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (850) 488-4676 with your support for non-lethal techniques on Florida black bears.

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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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