Target: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Nick Wiley
Goal: Don’t hunt black bears because of human attacks.
A recent surge in bear attacks in parts of Florida has led the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to consider lifting a 20-year ban on black bear hunting. Extensive human development has forced bears out of their habitats and demolished their food supply, leading the animals into developed areas in search of food. The increased attacks are an unfortunate but natural reaction to their habitat loss.
Since 2012, there have been four black bear attacks in Florida that resulted in human injuries. Mostly, the attacks occurred in a development that was built on a former bear habitat in the central part of the state near the Ocala National Forest. According to the wildlife agency, most of the neighborhood encounters happened when residents left food out where bears could get to it, enticing the animals out of the woods.
Black bears are legally hunted in 32 of the 41 states they naturally inhabit. The black bear population in Florida was almost completely decimated before the ban was put in place, yet many hunting advocates claim overpopulation is to blame for the bears’ habitat loss and that a trophy hunting season for bears is the only solution. However, hunting will not take place near the neighborhoods where the trouble is, but deep in the woods and is unlikely to make any progress in bear-human interactions.
In a field test, Florida wildlife officers found that conflicts between humans and bears were reduced by 95 percent when bear-proof garbage cans were used in residential areas instead of traditional cans. If bear hunting season is reopened in Florida, citizens will be killing large numbers of bears to punish them for our encroachment. Bears typically avoid human interaction, which they know to be dangerous. To steal their habitats and then entice them into dangerous areas with food that is increasingly hard for them to come by in the wild is bad enough, but to kill them for coming after that food is barbaric.
Urge the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission not to lift the black bear hunting ban, but to enforce the use of bear-proof garbage cans in residential bear country and educate those living in close proximity to bears on how to peacefully coexist.
Dear Mr. Wiley,
A natural result of black bear habitat loss is increased bear sightings in residential areas. As their land disappears, so does their food, and if residents of developed areas within former bear habitats are not practicing safe food storage or common sense awareness human-bear interactions will be frequent and dangerous.
Trophy hunting bears deep in the woods simply will not solve the problem of increased bear attacks. What is needed are education and awareness among residents of neighborhoods near bear habitats.
I implore you not to lift the black bear hunting ban in Florida.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: werner22brigitte via Pixabay