In a 4-3 vote last night in the small Panhandle town of Eastpoint, the seven-member Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) resolved that there will not be a bear hunt this year.
State officials said that by holding off on a hunt this year, they will have more time to develop innovative ways to reduce human-bear conflicts, an option that was vigorously mentioned during the more-than-eight-hour meeting.
Commissioner Ron Bergeron said during the meeting that even though staff scientists recommended a hunt proceed and had good science backing up their opinion, by
Commissioner Brian Yablonski stressed that hunting was an essential part of conservation but decided that while "99 percent of the time science will guide me, there are other factors, too... I don't think it hurts to wait a year."
Commissioner Robert Spottswood worried that the postponement would put the agency in the same indecisive spot next year.
“Our agency will continue to work with Floridians, the scientific community, and local governments as our focus
Though officials say the decision comes with the caveat that a bear hunt may be considered in 2017 “as an important conservation activity to control Florida’s growing bear population,” animal rights activists are elated that zero bears will be “harvested” this year.
“People coming together can make a difference, and we saved the bears from being hunted this year,” said Adam Sugalski, the campaign director of Stop the Florida Bear Hunt. “Grassroots efforts and social pressure influenced this resolution.”
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Meanwhile, on an online hunting forum, hunters lamented the decision. One said that "The Anti's got what they wanted based on emotion.Your favorite game species will be next."
Another commented, "So the anti's act like crazy loons, Probably sent death threats and a ton of hate mail... and they win. The hunters provided facts,
To better deal with trashcan vandalism, a nuisance often cited by proponents of the hunt, the FWC has partnered with WastePro to quickly provide affordable bear-resistant