Thanks to activists' efforts, the Florida bear hunt will not take place in 2016.
In case you missed it, an annual bear hunt was allowed to take place in Florida last year to reduce populations of the state’s black bears – the first in 21 years.
While the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) claimed that the hunt was necessary, activists vehemently disagreed. After all, the state did not even have an up-to-date count of what the bear population was. The last time a statewide tally occurred was 13 years ago.
Nonetheless, 295 black bears were slaughtered in just two days. According to officials, the hunt took place at a time when baby cubs were supposed to be 8 or 9 months old. This was done to spare mother bears who were raising their cubs as well as ensure that young black bears could survive on their own.
Unfortunately, according to Chris Norcott, Florida wildlife photographer and animal advocate, the cubs can nurse up until their second year. He told The Dodo when the hunt took place last year:
“The agency believes the cubs are weaned off their mother’s milk by the age of 9 months. This is not true. I’ve spent years photographing black bears in the wild and have witnessed first-hand cubs nursing from their mother from newborn up until their second year at 15 months.”
Those who still shudder to think about the barbaric event will be relieved to know that this year, the black bear hunt will not take place. This is largely a result of activists’ objections, reports the Apalach Times.
Nick Wiley, FWC executive director relayed in a statement,
“Although hunting has been demonstrated to be a valuable tool to control bear populations across the country, it is just one part of FWC’s comprehensive bear management program. I am proud of our staff who used the latest, cutting-edge, peer-reviewed science to develop a recommendation for our Commissioners to consider. Our agency will continue to work with Floridians, the scientific community and local governments as our focus remains balancing the needs of Florida’s growing bear population with what’s best for families in our state. I would like to thank all seven of our Commissioners for their leadership on this important issue.”
Reportedly, with the money raised from last year’s bear hunt (approximately $825,000), non-lethal options to resolve bear-related issues may take place – hopefully eliminating the need for the mammals to be hunted at all. This doesn’t mean that future bear hunts won’t take place, says the FWC, but for 2016, at least, black bears in the state of Florida are safe.
Commissioner Bo Rivard, who acknowledged that the 2015 hunt had its flaws, told the press:
“We went 20 years without a hunt, had one last year. I’m OK with hitting the pause button. Have our staff continue to work on the issue.”
This is a win for animal rights activists everywhere. Please share this news and comment your thoughts below!
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