Home / State of Florida / Protestors Voice Concern Over Proposed Bear Hunt

Protestors Voice Concern Over Proposed Bear Hunt

Avery Cobbs protests the proposed bear hunt in front of the Ocala office of  the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. FWC is expected to vote Wednesday on legalizing bear hunting. Jonathan Muñoz / WUFT News

Protesters stood in front of the Ocala office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission on Monday to protest a proposal to legalize bear hunting in the state.

The protests were organized by Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.

“We think that the FWC is premature in opening a bear hunting season,” said Bryan Wilson, Central Florida Coordinator for ARFF. “Given that the bears were just D-listed three years ago and their own studies have shown the bear population has not rebounded rapidly, really a hunt right now is premature and ill-advised.”

The Florida Black Bear was removed from the state’s threatened species list in 2012.

The group held signs and banners that read “Stop The War On Wildlife” and  “Tell FWC No Bear Hunt!”

The animal rights group fears the number of bears is still not at the level it needs to be, despite the fact that numbers are rising.

“The sustainable population that exists in the wild for bears has been established as much higher that the current population,” Wilson said.

“This is not a population control issue. It really is an unnecessary trophy hunt.”

A statement released by Nick Wiley, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissions, refutes this claim.

“There is a misconception circulating that suggests the reinstated bear hunt would be nothing more than a ‘trophy’ hunt,” Wiley stated in the release. “The primary purpose of a limited bear harvest is to mange the bear population while providing carefully regulated hunting opportunities, and the proposed hunt has been aligned accordingly.”

The FWC commissioners see a growing bear population and a diminishing number of methods to try and control them.

“It’s really to the point where the bear population is in the state of Florida that relocating bears is not the best option anymore, we’re running out of spaces to put bears,” said Greg Workman, FWC Public Information Coordinator for the Northeast region

FWC did say that the proposed hunt was not a direct response to recent bear attacks or increasing human-bear conflicts, nor would a hunt be the solution to these conflicts. They cite the most effective measure for minimizing human-bear conflicts is effective management of garbage and food attractants.

Similar protests occurred simultaneously at four other FWC offices around the state in West Palm Beach, Lakeland, Lake City and Panama City.

FWC is expected to vote Wednesday on legalizing bear hunting during a meeting in Sarasota.

If approved, it will be the first time bear hunting will be legal in 20 years.

About Jonathan Muñoz

Jonathan is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  1. The [Florida] Villages developer is creating a
    hunting camp in Marion County

    The family who
    introduced one of the biggest all-in-one residential venues to Central Florida
    has embarked on bringing their passion for the great outdoors closer to home.

    Mark Morse, president
    and chief operating officer of The Villages, and his daughter, Kelsea Manly,
    recently filed paperwork signaling the creation of a 1,900-acre hunting
    preserve east of Ocala. Remember when Mark Morse went west and he and his
    sister and friends were arrested for taking illegal game? Now he has created a
    hunting Mecca in Marion County Florida where he enjoys the total protection of
    the Bush family and their old Lawyer Rick Scott. Not only do they enjoy the
    protection from criminal acts – Jeb Bush and Rick Scott even allowed the FWC to
    encourage the media to exaggerate the Florida Black Bear problems and encourage
    FWC to remove “trouble bears to the Ocala national Forest.” Except that ethical
    FWC employee’s have told interested parties that they are ordered to deliver
    [especially the larger bears] to Morse’s private hunting preserve – the new
    Black Bear hunting season was created for the purpose of Mark Morse and friends
    having their own private trophy bear hunt!

    The father-daughter
    team, under the corporate banner of a firm called Cow Hammock LLC, filed
    building permits and other documents that indicate the launch of an exclusive
    hunting camp.

    County records filed
    indicate the property will host a 2,062-square-foot bunkhouse valued at $90,000
    and a 508-square-foot freezer facility estimated at $60,000.

    Also on site, according
    to county records, will be a “skinning shack” and a main house.

    Permits for those two
    buildings apparently had not been filed yet.

    The two building permits
    have temporarily stalled because the county is seeking additional information
    from the applicants, a county spokeswoman said.

    The buildings will be
    situated on part of the 2,391 acres that Cow Hammock acquired last June.

    Cow Hammock bought the land from Rayonier Forest
    Resources, the Jacksonville-based lumber, paper and real estate giant, for just
    more than $7 million.

    Illustrative of what a difference a decade makes,
    Rayonier purchased the property in October 1999 for $20.7 million, records

    INC. Current Principal Place of Business: 225 WATER STREET, SUITE 1400 –

    Title PRESIDENT,


    Address 225 WATER
    STREET, SUITE 1400

    City-State-Zip: JACKSONVILLE
    FL 32202


    Name VAN TUYL,

    Address 1301


    Title DIRECTOR

    BUSH, JOHN ELLIS [JEB] [As of 4/23/2015 – Jeb Bush is
    still on this board]

    Address 225 WATER
    STREET, SUITE 1400


    Jeb Bush to Step Down From Rayonier Board

    Move Comes After
    Resignation From Tenet Healthcare Board, Plan to Explore Presidential Bid

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