Emotional Ad Urges Florida Governor to Halt Bear Hunt

Florida bear hunt has been criticized by several environment agencies and local activists. Now, an emotional ad has been aired in Central Florida to urge Governor Rick Scott to stop the bear hunt.

Lee Day, an activist from Florida, created the ad where pictures of Florida black bears have been shown with soft music in the background. Suddenly, the music stops with a gunshot sound. Voice of a dying bear takes over the music.

Day said an original bear voice has been used in the ad which was recorded during last year’s bear hunt. There’s also a voiceover in this ad where Florida people are urged to call state governor Rick Scott to halt the hunt. According to Day, people can stop such an event from taking place in the state.

It is still possible to put an end to the hunt. Governor Rick Scott can do that, said Day. He has to just use his executive power and the hunt will be halted, the activist added.

Florida Fish and Wildlife is currently working on many webinars on this year’s bear hunt. These webinars are managed by seven commissioners, out of whom five are selected by Scott. According to Day, the governor can ask the commissioners to do something to stop the event, or he can use his power to stop the hunt.

Local activists desperately want to stop the hunt, while FWC hasn’t formally announced any bear hunt for this year. As per FWC, the state has more than 4,300 black bears. The animal was a threatened species in Florida from 1974 to 2012. But in 2012, it was removed from the list, and in 2015, a hunting event was organized where about 298 bears were shot by hunters.

According to a report in Pulse Headlines by Melany Mejias, “As black bear populations continue to grow, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold three webinars about bear management before it decides whether to conduct another statewide bear hunt. The first webinar took place on Thursday afternoon, and the other two webinars are scheduled for Tuesday, May 31, and June 2.”

The commission is will meet on June 22 and June 23 to discuss the possibility of leading the second black bear hunt in Florida in more than 20 years. This event will greet the commission in Apalachicola. The first one was held last October and led to controversy as hunters killed 304 bears.

Scientifically known as Ursus americanus floridanus, the Florida black bear is one of 16 subspecies of the American black bear, the FWC informs on its web page. This kind of black bear is completely black furred, unlike other subspecies of the American black bear which can have coat colors ranging from black to blond.

“The ad, produced for about $400 by local activist Lee Day, is already airing on cable systems in Central Florida. In the ad, images of Florida black bears are shown as soft music plays in the background. The music stops amid the sound of a gunshot, then Day plays a recording of a dying bear. Day says he recorded the audio during the state’s 2015 hunt. A voiceover in the ad then directs people to call Scott and put an end to the hunt,” according to a news report published by Wftv.

Florida Fish and Wildlife, which is conducting a series of webinars on a possible 2016 hunt, is led by seven appointed commissioners. Of the seven commissioners on the FWC board, five were appointed by Scott. In addition to Scott’s appointments to the FWC board, he also has the power as the governor of Florida to halt any planned bear hunt; although FWC has not formally announced any hunt for 2016.

FWC estimates there are 4,300 black bears in Florida. From 1974 to 2012, the Florida black bear was a state-designated threatened species, however, in 2012, the bears were removed from the list and in 2015 FWC authorized a limited hunt of black bears across the state, with hunters killing 298 bears.

A report published in Tampa Bay said, “Watching sandpipers dart back and forth between the waves, seeing a pelican dive beak-first into a school of fish, or watching a reddish egret dance in the shallows as it chases its prey are Florida scenes that delight residents and tourists alike. But we owe this rich bounty of bird life to the vision and actions of those conservation leaders who came before us.”

Fast forward to today. With more than 20 million Floridians and nearly 100 million visitors annually, it is abundantly clear that our wildlife faces great challenges. Bold actions are needed to protect wildlife when and where it is most vulnerable. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has an effective tool to accomplish the needed protection. Critical Wildlife Areas can be designated by the FWC, with the support of the land owner, to manage access in order to protect wildlife.

The first CWA in Florida was established in 1977. Now there are 20 CWAs scattered throughout the state, but new designations have languished. In fact, none had been established since the early 1990s. So after a period of 21 years without a new CWA, the FWC created Bird Island CWA in Martin County in 2014 and then Second Chance Island CWA in Collier County in 2015. At Bird Island, where 17 different species have nested, wood stork nest productivity is up by 25 percent since the CWA was established.

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