Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

February 5, 2015

Double Entendre or Controlled Florida Bear Hunting

And coming soon to Florida!
Picture credit: William A. Troyer – US Fish and Wildlife Service

In the little publicized, poorly defined FFWS meeting in Jacksonville yesterday, not much was really accomplished or confirmed about the plan to renew Black Bear hunting in this state.
We still do not really know exactly how, when, where or what is going to  happen to our Black Bears.
Another meeting is set for April in Tallahassee.
A sparse few showed up to object to hunting them, but so many more came to support the plan to begin once again hunting/killing our Florida Black Bears.
FFWS said that they are going to become much more aggressive in the way Bears are handled or controlled from now on.
Two things in the various news stories reporting this meeting stood out to me.
One was that if the hunt is approved, the hunters will not be killing bears in the conflict/troubled areas, but, they will instead be deep in the woods killing Bears that may have never even seen a Human, let alone caused any sort of problems.
And second, the news that of the 41 states where black bears live, 32 already do allow hunting.
This to me, seems to be used as a form of excuse by the Hunting groups to renew the killings.
I wonder if any of these hunting supporters have ever been to California?
I lived there for over 30 years and never saw a Bear or any other kind of wild animal, except for raccoons and deer, until I went to Yellowstone and then again when I came here to Florida nearly ten years ago.
You see, they had already hunted most of them, to extinction, long before I ever moved there.
What was missing from this Bear Meeting yesterday, was what happened to the bear populations in those states, after the hunting began.
This animal was, just a short time ago very scarce in Florida.
In this state, Bears are not the problem, people are the problem.
They refuse to do what will keep bears away from their neighborhoods and out of their yards and garages.
They leave food outside in their yards, and in open garages, they do not have bear proof trash cans, in fact some of them even outright feed the bears.
Dumpsters all over Central Florida are left open and uncovered.
For Bears, who always follow the food, this entire area is one big Bear Buffet.
Dinner is served, and they all know where to find it.
It all here for them to enjoy.
All that is, except for the ones who have already been killed by FFWS.
These bears were labeled as bad or aggressive bears, too aggressive to be allowed to live.
The idea of a resumption in Bear hunting gives me fits of terror.
Here is why.
In 1998, the year that my parents moved to this area in Central Florida in the Ocala Forest, from South Florida, the Forestry Service began what is supposed to be a safe normal process, it is called a “controlled burn.”
Well, that year the controlled burn nearly wiped out most of Central Florida.
To say it got out of hand fast, is an understatement.
So, what happens when FFWS gives Hunters, these same ones we now see out on our local roads, standing on their roofs and in the beds of their pickup trucks firing into the woods, using rifles now also armed with silencers?
This is the reason that I am very worried right now, not just for the Bears, but for all of us.
These Hunters, who continuously show that they care little for the safety of others, or their own hunting dogs, are completely  “over the moon” at the idea of finally legally being able to shoot and kill bears.
Since moving here ten years ago, we have witnessed already, some cruel and sick behavior towards Black Bears.
They have found bears dead on the sides of the roads, with their paws and feet cut off.
Now FFWS wants to give these people permission to do it legally.
Where will it all end?
I keep remembering the controlled burn in 1998 and the complete devastation that it caused to Humans and Animals alike.
But things just got out of hand.
Will controlled Florida Bear Hunting be any different?
Places to learn more:
Florida bear hunt likely to happen this fall

Bear policy protests
Black bears could soon be fair game for Florida hunters
Florida Mulls Return Of Bear Hunts After Increase In Urban Attacks
With black bear population on rise, Florida may allow hunts

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