Bowing to organized and intense pressure from animal rights activists, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has voted 4 to 3 to cancel a bear hunt this fall. In other words, politics trumped science-based management of our fish and wildlife, just as happened in the Northwest, where Washington and Oregon have removed limits on bass and other "nonnative" warmwater species.
More and more the political correctness madness that infects so much of this country is creeping into strategies for managing our natural resources.
Not that facts matter anymore, but here are some interesting ones:
In 1975, the human population in Florida was 8.518 million, while the bear population was estimated at between 300 and 500.
In 2014, the human population was 19.89 million. The most recent estimate of the bear population is 4,350.
Now consider that a human population increase of more than 100 percent has demanded development of vast areas of land that once likely was prime habitat. Meanwhile, the bear population has increased by more than 1,000 percent, meaning reduced wilderness can't support the numbers, forcing the animals in to more "civilized" areas.
People who are argue that the bears should be "relocated" instead of killed don't understand the concept of "carrying capacity," just as they don't understand much of anything about natural resources management.
FWC Director Nick Wiley justified the decision this way:
“Although hunting has been demonstrated to be a valuable tool to control bear populations across the country, it is just one part of FWC’s comprehensive bear management program. I am proud of our staff who used the latest, cutting-edge, peer-reviewed science to develop a recommendation for our Commissioners to consider.
"Our agency will continue to work with Floridians, the scientific community and local governments as our focus remains balancing the needs of Florida’s growing bear population with what’s best for families in our state. I would like to thank all seven of our Commissioners for their leadership on this important issue.”
But in approving in the 2015 hunt, two commissioners said this:
"Of the 41 states that have black bears, 32 of them already allow hunting in some form or fashion,” said Commission Vice Chairman Brian Yablonski of Tallahassee.
“And all those states have managed to do it in a way that is sustainable and that works to preserve and keep a healthy, thriving bear population.”
“I’d rather see more bears in the environment and hunting than the amount of bears we’re euthanizing, because we’re bringing them into the neighborhoods,” added Commissioner Ron Bergeron of Fort Lauderdale.
“I don’t think any person should have the right to endanger their neighbor.”
So, as a few more bears won't be killed among an exploding population (304 in 2015), the odds increase for someone living in Florida to be fatally mauled by a bear. Already, several have been attacked and severely injured, pets have been killed, and houses and property damaged by bears that have lost their natural fear of humans. In 2012 alone, a bear complaint hotline received 6,000 calls.
By this time, most everyone knows that this administration won't prosecute criminal behavior within its own ranks. That includes the agencies that manage our natural resources, as the illustration above shows.
Seventeen of 29 criminal cases referred by the Inspector General to the Department of Justice during the past six months have been declined prosecution. Also, the DOJ declined to testify at the hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Department of Interior Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall told the committee that the "systemic failtures in management and internal oversight" within DOI and "ever-increasing complaints and allegations we receive" remain a challenge.
The next time the fish aren’t biting, you can always skip rocks or chase frogs. But here is another fun thing that you can do: Go exploring for creepy crawlies under the rocks and logs that lie in the shallows of your favorite stream or pond.
This underwater world is full of interesting critters, some of which are so strange that they look like miniature versions of movie monsters. And some of them can bite or pinch! So be careful. Don’t ever put your hand or foot where you can’t see.
If you do, you might get a painful introduction to the hellgrammite, also known as the “toe biter.” It has large pinching mandibles, or jaws, as well as sharp hooks on its tail.
In between, it has a tough, segmented body with six legs and eight feathery appendages on its stomach. Because it is a poor swimmer, it hides, captures, and eats smaller insects, as they swim by.
If it lives to grow up into an adult, the hellgrammite turns into a Dobson fly, one of the largest flying insects. But many do not, because smallmouth bass and other fish love to eat them.
Bass also like to eat crayfish, which you also will find in the shallows. Depending on where you live, they might be called “crawfish,” “crawdads,” or “mud bugs.”
Wherever you live, watch out for those pinchers!
Closely related to the lobster, most crayfish grow to about 3 inches long, but some can get much larger.
As they grow, crayfish must shed their skins, or “exoskeletons.” That’s because they don’t have inside skeletons like you and me. Bass like them best when they are between skins, making them softer and easier to crunch.
Along with hellgrammites and crayfish, bass also like to eat most other creepy crawlies, including dragonfly nymphs, leeches, and mud puppies.
You probably have seen paintings of bass leaping into the air to grab dragonflies. But, really, they much are likely to eat the “nymph,” or immature stage of the dragonfly, which has no wings and lives in the water.
With its big lower lip armed with spines, as well as large eyes and three pairs of segmented legs, the dragonfly nymph looks ferocious. And it is--- if you tiny fish, tadpoles, or mosquito larvae, its favorite food.
The adult dragonfly eats adult mosquitoes, as well as flies and other insects. As the world’s fastest flying insect, reaching speeds of up to 38 miles per hour, it has little trouble chasing them down.
The leech, meanwhile, likely is the slowest of the creepy crawlies that you might find. And don’t worry, it’s not going to bite.
Yes, some leeches, which really are segmented worms, do suck blood. But the ones that you are likely to find in a stream or pond have large, toothless mouths that they use to eat worms and insect larvae. They find their food with six to eight pairs of eyes.
The mud puppy, a type of salamander, has only two eyes, but it is, by far, the largest of the creatures that you might find crawling along the bottom of a river or pond. In fact, it grows so large that anglers sometimes catch it while fishing with live bait. Others use the mud puppy as bait for bass, stripers, and other large fish.
Also known as the “water dog,” it was named for the mistaken belief that it can bark.
With a reddish brown back and black spots, it can grow up to 12 inches long. It has bushy, red gills with no gill covers. Unlike other salamanders, it keeps those gills and never becomes an air breather.