On October 15 I published an essay called "Florida's Upcoming Bear Hunt: A Tragic Failure to Apply Solid Science, Public Opinion, and Compassionate Conservation." I concentrated on what was then an upcoming bear hunt that was thoroughly ill founded in that it ignored public opinion and sound science.
Most unfortunately, the hunt began and turned into a massacre, a bloody slaughter that defies anything that comes close to even the loosest definitions of compassion. I have no interest in belaboring just how inhumane and unethical this brutal slaughter has turned out to be, so here are some three summaries, two from people on the bloody scene.
The first summary by Richard Foster is called "The Lingering Stench of Death: Witnessing the Developers' War on Florida's Black Bears, October 24-25, 2015." He notes, "When the humans issued their ceasefire late on 10/25, the official death toll released by the FWC was 295 bears, slightly less than 10% of the estimated population. That figure will almost certainly be revised upward due to poor command-and-control of the human forces, excludes an under-reporting problem of unknown dimensions, and fails to account for the "collateral damage" of orphaned cubs and wounded bears who will die later, plus the ripple effect of reduced fertility rates due to the extermination of so many adults of reproductive age. None of those omissions should for one moment be considered accidental: any additional enemy losses are always desirable for the conquering force."
Mr. Foster's essay is accompanied by some incredibly bloody and sickening photos. I warn you it is not for the weak at heart, or, for that matter, anyone with a heart.
Another criticism was sent to me via email and read: "Been at hunt check stations yesterday and this morning. Central unit. Beyond disturbing, rules bent, broken but ignored. Placating answers given. Also, FWC is quoting deer % for field dressed bear cubs. Deer are 20%. Bear is 11-16%, so the 76 pound cub I saw yesterday was illegal but hunter got to keep it. I'm sure you heard they killed more than double the quota in Panhandle unit in first 12 hours. At every FWC meeting since Feb we (including some hunters) begged them to do a Tag hunt, like they've done with alligators since they started hunting them. Had they listened there would have only been 40 tags issued in Panhandle and we wouldn't have lost 82 bears there now - and still counting. Stations in closed units open today until noon. I'm at Ocala forest. 4 bears so far this morning. One illegally killed this morning. One clearly nursing more than one cub. She was already decaying to point of being unusable for anything. Another part of my soul is forever gone ; ("
This brutal massacre is bad science
On top of being sickeningly inhumane and bloody, this brutal massacre also is bad science. The third criticism by author and ecologist George Wuerthner titled "Florida Black Bear Hunt Represents Failure of Wildlife Management," begins, "The proximate reason for the hunt is that bears, according to representatives of the Florida Wildlife Commission, is that a growing bear population is contributing to greater conflicts between humans and bears. Hunters and the Wildlife Commission like to portray the issue as "problem bears", but the reality is that there are no problem bears, only problem humans. Most of these conflicts are due to human negligence. People leaving food attractants like unsecured garbage cans which train bears to forage near humans." He goes on to note, "The worse part of the hunt is that it ignores the social ecology of predators. Fish and Game agency always talk about maintaining populations. The problem with this kind of management is that it ignores the demographics of wildlife. Hunting tends to skew populations towards younger animals. So even if you maintain the same "population" if the population consists of many young inexperienced animals, you automatically create conflicts. Young animals are less likely to know the location of natural food resources, and are less successful as hunters. As a consequence, they are the very animals most likely to seek out garbage, livestock, and other human food resources."
Florida thrill killing gone wild
You can easily voice your opinion about this bloody massacre. Please contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissioners by clicking here. They include: Brian S. Yablonski, Aliese P. "Liesa" Priddy, Ronald M. Bergeron, Richard Hanas, Adrien Bo Rivard, Charles W. Roberts III, and Robert A. Spottswood. I've been told that Commissioner Bergeron, a hunter himself, was the sole final vote against this bear hunt. And, you can tell them what you think here. The Community Relations Office (general information, news media contacts) cab be reached at 850-488-4676, the Office of the Executive Director can be reached at 850-487-3796.
The Florida bear slaughter is an event that should disgust anyone with a heart, anyone who really cares about the magnificent nonhuman animals (animals) with whom we should peacefully coexist. We, not they, are the real problem. These sorts of bloodbaths -- thrill killing gone wild -- have not and do not work and should be terminated immediately.