VICTORY: Florida Calls Off Cruel Bear Hunt
A Florida hunt that allowed people to go out and kill 295 black bears in just two days last year will not happen again this year - to the great joy of animal advocates who have been working tirelessly against the hunt.
The 2015 hunt was the first time Florida had allowed a bear hunt in 21 years.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reportedly renewed the hunt so Florida could manage its bear population.
But this claim was controversial, as some people pointed out the state did not even have an up-to-date count of what exactly that population was: The latest statewide tally at the time of the 2015 hunt, according to one columnist, occurred 13 years ago.
Also controversial was the timing of the hunt, which was supposed to spare mother bears who were still raising their young cubs. But after 207 bears were killed in last year's hunt, that number has been sorely reduced. An FWC spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel "the hunt was timed so the youngest bear cubs would be 8 or 9 months old," when the cubs were allegedly old enough to survive without their moms.
"The agency believes the cubs are weaned off their mother's milk by the age of 9 months," Chris Norcott, Florida wildlife photographer and animal advocate, told The Dodo at the time. "This is not true. I've spent years photographing black bears in the wild and have witnessed firsthand cubs nursing from their mother from newborn up until their second year at 15 months."
According to the BBC, the first bear killed was a still-lactating mother bear. By the end of last year's hunt, an estimated 38 lactating mother bears were killed.
Thankfully, the Florida bears are safe this year. But the fight isn't over.
"[T]he Commission could consider future bear hunting in 2017," the FWC said.
But for now, animal advocates are celebrating the win. "It's a victory for animal lovers all across the world," Adam Sugalski, campaign director of Stop Florida Bear Hunt, said. "We did this together."