Saturday, October 24, was the first day of the Florida Black Bear Hunt. As expected it was a massacre. Hunters were shooting any bear they saw and a high number of lactating females were killed. The hunt was out of control and in some areas three times the allowable number of bears have been killed. The Florida Black Bear was protected until 2012, we have no idea how many/few there are, but some of the FWC Commissioners in charge of "managing" our wildlife wanted to go hunting.
Dear Governor Rick Scott: We demand that you fire the FWC's seven Commissioners apointed by you. None of the seven Commissioners are scientists. This is a serious flaw that is reflected in many decisions made by the Commissioners during the past years. A short look at two of the most recent decisions proves that we absolutely need commissioners who are scientists. We also need the presence of environmentalists and members of the tourist industry since there have already been threats to boycott Florida if the governor does not clean up this mess.
1. Florida Black Bear hunt: The FWC decided to have its first black bear hunt in 21 years although the state does not know how many black bears there are; the Black Bear was just recently delisted from the threatened species list; AND research has shown that there is a very simple tool to avoid human-black bear conflicts through the use of bear-safe trash cans. In addition, the Black Bear hunt takes place in areas where there have not been any human/black bear conflicts. Further, the FWC sold about 3,200 permits to kill although hunters are only allowed to kill a total of 320 bears. Scientists working for the FWC admit that there is absolutely no way to stop hunters from killing bears once the 320 limit has been reached. This is going to be an uncontrolled massacre of black bears by people like Ted Nugent who have been allowed to purchase a license to kill.
2. The Commissioners are pushing to lighten up federal protections for the estimated 180 Florida Panthers because Liesa Priddy, one of the commissioners who also owns a cattle ranch, thinks that Florida Panthers might have killed 10 of her calves in a two-year period.
All of the current Commissioners are either developers, contractors, lawyers, and/or ranchers who enjoy hunting and fishing:
Brian S. Yablonski is external affairs director for Gulf Power Company. An avid sportsman, the Tallahassee resident particularly enjoys backpacking, hunting, mountain biking and fishing.
Aliese P. "Liesa" Priddy owns and operates the JB Ranch in Southwest Florida and learned to hunt and fish early on.
Ron Bergeron, an engineering contractor, is president and owner of Bergeron Family of Companies, based in Ft. Lauderdale.
Richard Hanas is Senior Vice President for Corporate Administration and Governmental Affairs for A. Duda & Sons.
Adrien Bo Rivard has been a partner with Harrison Rivard Duncan & Buzzett since 2002 and is the past-president of the Bay County Chamber of Commerce.
Charles W. Roberts III has been president of Roberts and Roberts Inc. and Culpepper Construction Company Inc. since 2013. Previously, Roberts was president of C.W. Roberts Contracting Inc. for 38 years.
Robert A. Spottswood is the chief executive officer of Spottswood Companies Inc. He currently serves as a member of the Third District Court of Appeals Judicial Nominating Commission and the Governor’s Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding.
A FWC run by Commissioners who value our environment AND our wildlife is what we have deserved.You, the Florida Governor, keep emphasizing that you are not a scientist; so we need to make sure that we have a FWC that is run by scientists so you can make decisions that are based on solid science. We also need to make sure that some of the Commissioners are environmentalists and from the tourist industry because many of our tourists come here to enjoy our wildlife and natural environment. Since tourism is one of our biggest industries (next to farming) and there have already been calls to boycott Florida as a travel destination, we need to speak up to save our wildlife, natural environment, and our economy.