Florida wildlife officials end hunt after nearly 300 bears killed in two days

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2-day bear hunt makes for an ugly weekend in Florida: My Word.

“We started this with harvest objectives that were very conservative and very mindful that we were doing this for the first time in 21 years, and there were uncertainties,” Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, told reporters at a Sunday news conference, according to the Orlando Sentinel. MIAMI: Hunters in Florida over the weekend killed some 300 black bears as part of a controversial program allowing sportsmen to track and kill the animals, wildlife officials said Monday.

At the end of the hunt’s second day, the number of bears killed was close to the “statewide objective” of 320, according to a commission news release that said this year’s hunt was “officially over.” “We have bears that haven’t been hunted in 21-plus years here in Florida so they’re relatively naive,” Thomas Eason, director of FWC’s division of habitat and species conservation, told the Sentinel. “I also think we had a lot of hunters who went out and did a lot of scouting and were ready.” Officials had already closed two hunting regions in the state after the first day, in which 207 bears were reported killed. These highly educated, qualified wildlife folks are attempting to control situations created by politicians who vote for large real-estate developments that allow for wildlife destruction throughout the state. Florida approved the hunt earlier this year, saying the state’s black bear population had grown too large and that attacks on people had become more common.

Officials had said the hunt would last for as long as seven days, but cut it short late Sunday as they approached the predetermined quota of 320 culled black bears. As Florida has become the third-most populous state in the U.S., people have continued moving deeper into bear habitat at a time when the animals’ numbers have grown. Officials said that over the years there have been a growing number of encounters including some that proved fatal to people, in which bears have encroached upon areas inhabited by humans. “This hunt is completely unnecessary and it’s not supported by science or by public sentiment,” said Kate MacFall, Florida state director for the Humane Society of the United States, a leading animal rights group. “Unfortunately for bears, most of Florida’s wildlife commissioners failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Floridians who publicly opposed the hunt.” State officials said permits from the hunt netted some $376,900, which would be used for trash management and other efforts to limit interactions between bears and humans. – AFP

However, there was something about seeing the still-warm body of a beautiful creature lying in the bed of a pickup or tied to a trailer in an awkward or humiliating position — its dead eyes still open and its tongue sticking out of the side of its mouth — that made my stomach ache. Part of the reason for the bear’s comeback was the state’s ban on hunting after black bear numbers plummeted into the hundreds, giving them legal protections meant to preserve imperiled species.

Consider the comment about hunting from Astevia Willett of Largo in Sunday’s article “Bear hunt halted in Central Florida”: “It’s death.” It’s kind of like going to the supermarket and buying meat from the butcher. With animal lovers protesting the decision to open hunting season on bears, more than 3,500 people purchased bear hunting permits, even though the cap was just 320. Maria Bolton-Joubert, Sierra Club of Central Florida programs chairwoman, told the paper that the state should look for solutions that wouldn’t involve killing the bears, like trash cans that are bear-resistant. “We do not see this hunt resolving the human-bear conflict issues at this time,” she told the newspaper. “We see this as impacting the bear population further.” They also continued to defend the hunt, saying it was heavily regulated and that they remained in constant contact with the hunters who received permits via text message, social media and email.

In one, Hillary Clinton commented to Rachel Maddow that after the hearing, she and her team celebrated “with Indian food, beer and wine.” Interesting. Diane Eggeman, the FWC’s director of hunting and game management division, conceded that the protests surrounding the hunt did motivate state officials to shut it down even though they were still a little below the initial goal they set. Clinton supporters should ask themselves: If you were a relative of one of the four murdered victims, how would you feel about Clinton’s celebrating with beer and wine and taking a victory lap in Iowa? In Sunday’s column, Charles Krauthammer bemoaned the fact that President Obama washed his hands of Iraq and Iran (“As Putin rebuilds Russia’s power, Obama just watches”). My friends and I concluded the hunt, which was called off after two days when the official statewide total reached 298, was loosely supervised by state officials.

Further, it drew some hunters who had no intention of consuming the bear meat, had no respect for their prey and were embarrassed about being identified publicly.

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