Is Florida’s black bear hunt ethical?

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Florida bear cull called off; hunters kill nearly 300.

Bear hunting had been illegal since 1994, but because of a growing population, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scheduled a seven-day project that allowed permit-carrying hunters to pay $100 each to kill up to 320 bears in total. For three weeks, Smith, 49, featured in 2012 on the National Geographic Channel reality show “Doomsday Preppers,” readied for the first statewide bear hunt in more than four decades by studying the big male that had treated Smith’s 40 acres in Lake County like his personal pantry. “They can say anything they want.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida’s controversial black bear hunt ended after its second day after a higher than expected number of bears had been killed with 295 bears taken overall, nearing the official limit, Florida wildlife authorities said late Sunday. Florida residents have reported several bear attacks on their pets in recent years, though the commission maintains that the hunt was not an effort to specifically address these attacks. Hunters came in just shy of the statewide quota of 320 set by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commissioners, which took into account the estimated black bear population of Florida.

The hunt aimed to stabilise a population of bears that had rebounded to more than 3,000 from several hundred in the 1970s, according to the commission. It’s a free country,” Smith said as he and his brother debated how to move the 457-pound bear through the woods where it fell dead to a truck and trailer parked about a quarter mile away. The agency said hunting in the central and east panhandle portions of the state were closed on Saturday, after just one day of hunting, as hunters were more proficient than anticipated. “Regulated hunting has a long, successful history of contributing to wildlife conservation in North America. The statement late Sunday said additional North and South units were closed to hunting after the second day, meaning hunting had ended in all four “bear management units” were it was allowed. By late Sunday, 295 bears were reported dead – 139 killed by hunters from Central Florida, 112 from the eastern Panhandle, 23 from the northern region, and 21 in the southern region.

The bear, nearly as tall as a refrigerator and almost twice as heavy, was blamed for busting into a screw-top barrel of chicken feed, snatching up pigs, killing baby goats and trying to yank a steer head-first under a wire fence. Of the 41 states with resident bear populations, 33 of them conduct hunts and all have stable to increasing bear populations,” the commission’s statement said. Hunt opponents held statewide protests on Friday, aiming to build on the international outrage generated this summer by the killing of Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, by an American dentist who was on an African hunting trip. In those areas, 112 bears were killed – three times the regional kill quota. “None of these numbers are worrying to us,” Thomas Eason, director of FWC’s division of habitat and species conservation, tells the Orlando Sentinel. “We have large, resilient, growing bear populations.” But for other Florida conservation groups, the hunting of any of the estimated 3,500 black bears in the state raises ethical concerns.

The hunt became divisive as animal groups looked to stop it through legal challenges and claimed that hunting bears so soon after they were taken off the endangered species list in 2012, was detrimental to their populations. State wildlife officers have received increasing complaints about bears in neighbourhoods close to woodlands where the animals have long roamed, as suburban development has further encroached on to their habitat. Chuck O’Neal, organizer of Speak Up Wekiva, said up to 500 bears could have been killed if it hadn’t been for his group’s confrontation with the FWC. “The real raw fact of the matter of losing these bears is devastating to many of us in the community,” says Emily Ruff, who attended the ceremony. “Our primary concern is to honor and pay respects to the wildlife that’s been lost in this hunt…I feel in large part the public feels betrayed by the state for allowing this to take place.” Other opponents of the hunt volunteered at kill stations across the state, where hunters must check in their prey within 12 hours. Earlier Sunday, the agency’s executive director, Nick Wiley, told The Associated Press that the agency closely monitors the numbers of bears taken and was already leaning toward ending the hunt after two days.

While many hunters wash their clothes before a hunt with “Scent Killer” or another special laundry soap to fool a wary bear’s keen nose, Smith spent hours over many days in the tree stand, hoping his scent would become familiar to the bear and blend in. Commissioners approved the hunt in June after a stark increase in human-bear interaction calls to the agency and a series of attacks in Central Florida suburban neighborhoods.

The sale of the licenses brought in $376,900, which is slated to go toward funding efforts to reduce human conflicts with bears using better trash management. In the Northeast, swans, geese, and deer have all been targets of culling programs. “I think there are two strong strains here that get confused in our society. They lifted the bear onto the trailer, covered it with a padded blanket, strapped it down, and headed out to the check-in station as the state’s bear-hunting rules require. Activists have argued that the state should instead focus through other means on curbing nuisance bears and assuring safety through trash management and other means.

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