florida black bear hunt

In Memory of the 295 Florida Black Bears

Let’s have a moment of silence for the 295 bears that were killed in less than 48 hours this past weekend.

Each bear was taken by surprise, a victim in an unfair fight. We want to tell ourselves that we were relieved of these nuisance bears, that a threat to the fragile human species has been curbed for now.

But I think that we, humans, are the real threat. The answer is not bullets or arrows in the name of “conservation”, the answer is coexistence. But in true human form, the powers that be decided on what they would probably call a “quick fix” to the increased sightings of bears in neighborhoods. This bear hunt is setting an unsettling precedent that we will resort to extermination and further destruction instead of developing and building with the long term in mind for all species involved. 

Let’s talk about these living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings for a moment. This species, who have only been off the endangered species list for three years. A species whose population was reduced down to only 300 in the 1970s. These bears, who have gotten used to pavement on their paws and the sounds of cars honking as suburbia crawls onto the forest’s edge, building model homes on top of model homes that the average American can’t even afford.

Now let’s get to this past weekend’s tragic events. 295 naive and unsuspecting bears were murdered; easy targets for a species that hasn’t been hunted in 21 years. Among the dead were two cubs– one that was 88 pounds and one that was 42 pounds. To put that in perspective, I have a puggle (pug and beagle mix) that weighs 45 pounds. Where is there honor, or even a challenge in killing a baby animal? That is disturbing to me that you would see a cub in your crosshairs and think, I need to kill that baby animal. Also among the dead, were lactating mothers, so it can be assumed that the body count will be much higher than the actual 295, as hungry cubs wander the forest, lost and confused. In addition, no one can be sure that each bear killed was reported, and there is no telling how many injured bears there may be.

Before the cull, black bear populations in Florida were estimated to be between 3,000 and 3,500, with most of the bears residing in the Ocala National Forest. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), bears currently occupy only 30 percent of their historic range in seven relatively isolated bear subpopulations. To me, that doesn’t sound like the bears are the ones creating the issue here. Like all animals, bears will adapt to survive, even if that means going into a neighborhood to hunt for garbage. Sorry, but I am pretty sure bears do not honor property lines.

From personal experience, I can tell you that what they are after is garbage. Bears aren’t coming into our neighborhoods to eat your children or your dog for dinner. More than likely, they might know that you have a nice fruit tree, or maybe you’re the guy who puts his garbage out the night before trash day.

I lived in a well-developed and established suburb of Orlando for many years that butts up to a state park. We would often get black bears wandering around the neighborhood. Yes, these are dangerous animals that have the capacity to attack, but my first-hand observations were that they were on their own mission for food and were not looking for any trouble. If you lived and let live, then everyone would live.

So I think that we need to stop with the fear-mongering against any animal larger than ourselves. They have the brawn, we are supposed to be the evolved ones with our brains as our greatest defense, and I think that is the first weapon we should whip out. Let’s choose to use our brains before our bullets.

And to the hunters that destroyed each bear, I hope you use every last piece of that bear you can for something useful. I hope that each bear did not die in vain, just to buttress your own self worth and maybe get a few Instagram likes on your latest trophy. Honor the bear and its spirit. Honor the life that you took.

This hunt in my mind is a black mark on Florida, and on the state of conservation in general. Why in 2015 do we seem to be moving backwards? Killing an already fragile population is shameful. There have to be other solutions.

Hopefully some good can come from this savageness. Hopefully we can reexamine some of the ways we plan our cities and suburbs, especially those that border preserves and state parks.

This past weekend was a tragedy.

We know better than this. It’s time to start acting like it.

31 thoughts on “In Memory of the 295 Florida Black Bears”

  1. A Beautiful Memorial. Thank you for putting it into perspective in a warm and caring manner. We have all been so upset about this hunt, and I pray all that are upset now, will continue to voice their opinions and make a change. Next year will be even worse, because they will allow baiting and dogs off the leash. BTW, the population survey regarding the Florida Black Bear, will be completed in 2016. Yes, they didn’t wait to get an accurate count of how many bears there Really are in Florida. Sad
    Again, Thank you

    1. Thank you, Leslie, for your compliments and for the useful information. I agree that those opposed should continue to voice our opinions and we can hopefully make changes before next year.

  2. From 300 in the 70’s to thousands now. A success story that man helped create. Now populations are robust and culling is appropriate.

    1. Well that’s an interesting way of looking at it. “Man” did not create a “success”… “Man”caused the death of thousands of these animals until they became an endangered species and that’s when “man” was forced to stop shooting them, which in turn, let the bear population grow again. So before you pat yourself on the back, please consider that if laws did not force “man” to stop destroying these animals there would be none left. Not much of a “man” success story there.

  3. Well put..I am sure there could have been better solutions..relocating the bears or creating barricades to keep them from entering neighborhoods..anything would have been better than destroying so many beautiful creatures

  4. I see black bears in my neighborhood about three times a year. All the neighbors come out to photograph and video these amazing creatures. They are very afraid of people and run away as fast as they can back into the woods. All sightings have been on garbage days. In the fourteen years I have lived here there has been no issues. There was one in my garage when I first moved in…he casually removed the plastic bag from the garbage can and proceeded to drag the bag across my lawn to dine on some leftover KFC. They also have been seen eating kumquat from a tree in my yard. They were here first! Over 3000 bears in the entire state is not a lot ….I do not see the need for thinning the population. Thank you for this article. There have been more sharks attacking swimmers this year than any bears attacking humans. ….ever!

  5. Thank you for the well written article. This bear hunt was indeed an unnecessary slaughter based on an unnecessary fear of black bears. They are not the ” dangerous, unpredictable” animals which many have been led to believe. They are actually gentle, timid creatures out there making a living like the rest of us. Like everything else they deserve our Respect and kindness, not to be blown off the face of the earth.

  6. These bears are wild animals! You don’t coexist with wild animals. If your puggle is killed or injured, you’d be seeing things differently. Killing a baby or lactating mother is just plain unethical.

    1. Living in a neighborhood frequented by bears, I took proper precautions to protect my puggle. If coyotes were infiltrating the neighborhood, I would be a more worried because they will go after my puggle, whereas bears, are timid and usually mind their own business. I have known people personally who have had their dogs killed by coyotes.

      This is a wild world, and anything that we haven’t domesticated is a wild animal. Are we supposed to stomp on every species because they are wild, even though we as humans take their habitats?

      We can coexist with wild animals, we have to respect them as citizens of the earth. In order to do so, we have to change our way of thinking and not other them to buttress our own sense of purpose.

      Thank you for reading!

    2. We coexist with wild animals all the time – and they were here first.

      I live in in a rural area in mountainous Tennessee, which has a whole lot more predators than does Florida, including coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and the occasional black bear and cougar.

      Even though I acknowledge there is a risk that they may one take one or more of my animals, I have NO desire to kill them. We have infiltrated their landscape, we continue building in ecosystems where it is completely moronic to build, we waste habitually and continually foul our own nest, and we have overpopulated our resources to a ridiculous degree.

      They were here first, we NEED our apex predators, they keep our ecosystems far healthier than we humans do, and if anything, we can afford to spare a few humans.

  7. Animal lovers who meant good interfered in Africa decades ago trying to save the elephant. The result was no hunting in most of Africa for the ele. After 25 years and a tremendous increase in population the elephants were starving entire herds out because they had no food. Managed culling is humane, guarantees a healthy herd, provides meat for families, and hunters are the MAIN source of income for animal protection and healthy herd management. Nothing sad about this bear hunt. Most of the article is written strictly from an emotional view and lacks factual backbone.

    1. Thank you for your opinion Steve, on an article that is clearly my opinion, and therefore there are emotions involved. We can both pull facts to support either side of the argument, as you can see from the sourced material I included, and I do think the hunt could have been better managed, or else the Panhandle stations wouldn’t have gone so severely over the quota. I don’t think enough research was done before the hunt, or else we would have a more exact figure of the black bear population as a whole, as well as a better idea of how many bears are in each of the subpopulations. Most of the data on the FWC website is outdated.

      Interference from humans in a way to help them thrive, or a way to cull can both be detrimental. Despite the elephant population booming as you mentioned back then, the most recent portrait of the elephants in Africa paints a very dire picture due to poachers.

      Thank you for contributing your opinion, and thanks for reading!

  8. I think people trained and smarter than you on this subject knew it was time for this bear hunt. Everyone knows that well maintained wildlife will be here for future generations. Hunting is part of this not letting them get desease by over population.

    1. Hi Rick, Thanks so much for reading my opinion on my blog. I really appreciate the web traffic!

      It’s also fun to share opinions, God Bless America!

      If you could provide me with a source for a Florida black bear population count taken in 2015, I would love to see that.

      Also, the next time you want to insult someone’s intelligence, please visit grammarly.com, and your point will come across much better. Thanks again for reading!

  9. let’s be logical, ok? All wildlife must be controlled. Thus the reason for hunting. Bears in Fl are becoming at times a danger. I know as I am a reaident of Fl. Were there a few kills not necessary? Yes as happens in all wildlife hunting seasons. When bears are roaming residential
    Areas, there is a problem and steps must be taken. Shall we stop the legal
    Gator hunts or killing of the feral hogs also? Sorry it is not possible to coexist with wildlife. Wake up and realize the bear season was a neccesity.

    1. Thank you for reading this article!

      Wild boars or feral hogs, as their name suggests, are not indigenous to the region, and are therefore a threat to the natural populations of both plants and animals.

      Bears are not feral to Florida. The forests are their natural home.

      The population of alligators in Florida is estimated to be about 1.25 million, a far cry from the 3,000-3,500 bears.

      So using logic, I would say you can’t compare apples to oranges; not all hunts are the same or are as necessary as others.

    2. Bears roam my neighborhood two times a year…fall and spring. All in my neighborhood accept that they may roam from time to time. It is not the people that live in these neighborhoods that want them dead. It is people with their God complex that think we may control wildlife. It is called wild life for a reason! We have more problems with squirrels, raccoons, and armadillos than the florida black bear.

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