Target: Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Nick Wiley
Goal: Protect black bears from hunters.
A unique Florida subspecies of black bears could soon be hunted and killed just because humans are living in its traditional habitat, if a proposal by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to lift a ban on state black bear hunting is accepted. While the proposal is in response to an uptick in bear attacks that have taken place in Florida in the last few years, there are simpler, less destructive ways of making sure bears and humans coexist peacefully. Demand that the Commission not rescind the ban on black bear hunting.
Four people have been the victims of bear attacks in Florida since 2012. Most of these attacks took place in a part of the state that was built on bear habitat and lays just outside a national forest where black bears have thrived. In an effort to cut down on these incidents, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering lifting a state ban on black bear hunting that has been in place for over 20 years. Doing so, however, would ignore the fact that most bear encounters occur when homeowners leave food out in the open, and that such human-bear conflict can be reduced by 95 percent just by using bear-proof garbage cans.
Resorting to hunting in order to reduce bear attacks is, consequently, totally unnecessary. The focus should be on getting humans to alter their practices, not punishing animals for being animals. Sign the petition below to demand that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintain the existing ban on bear hunting.
Dear Executive Director Wiley,
I am writing you today regarding a proposal you are considering that would lift the ban on black bear hunting in your state. While I appreciate your desire to reduce the frequency of bear attack incidents in your state, this proposal is not the way to do it.
Studies have shown that human-bear interactions overwhelmingly occur when humans leave food out in the open. Bears, being wild animals, are attracted to food, and will investigate it regardless of whether it’s in the wild or left in some home’s trash cans. Fortunately, a preliminary test conducted by your own agency demonstrated that these kinds of interactions can be drastically reduced if homes in bear habitat use bear-proof garbage cans. Additional studies show that hunting bears in the wild is not an effective means of reducing bear-human interaction in towns and cities. It stands to reason, then, that you could more easily reduce the frequency of bear attacks in your state by advocating that homeowners in bear habitat use bear-proof garbage cans than you could by allowing Floridians to hunt the animals.
Besides, Floridians by a wide margin oppose legalizing black bear hunting, and overwhelmingly support the idea of households in bear habitat having a responsibility to use bear-proof garbage cans to protect themselves and the animals. I urge you not to lift the state ban on black bear hunting.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Eeekster via Wikimedia Commons