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. 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.