CENTRAL FLORIDA, Fla. — Anticipating another statewide bear hunt, local activists hit the airwaves with an ad calling on Gov. Rick Scott to halt the bear hunt.
The ad, produced for about $400 by local activist Lee Day, is already airing on cable systems in Central Florida. In the ad, images of Florida black bears are shown as soft music plays in the background. The music stops amid the sound of a gunshot, then Day plays a recording of a dying bear. Day says he recorded the audio during the state's 2015 hunt. A voiceover in the ad then directs people to call Scott and put an end to the hunt.
"It is still possible to stop this hunt through Rick Scott," says Day. "The only way to stop the hunt is to have Rick Scott use his executive power to stop the hunt."
Raw: Ad opposing Florida bear hunt
Florida Fish and Wildlife, which is conducting a series of webinars on a possible 2016 hunt, is led by seven appointed commissioners. Of the seven commissioners on the FWC board, five were appointed by Scott. In addition to Scott's appointments to the FWC board, he also has the power as the governor of Florida to halt any planned bear hunt; although FWC has not formally announced any hunt for 2016.
FWC estimates there are 4,300 black bears in Florida. From 1974 to 2012, the Florida black bear was a state-designated threatened species, however, in 2012, the bears were removed from the list and in 2015 FWC authorized a limited hunt of black bears across the state, with hunters killing 298 bears.
"What we see is FWC is letting some people's fear of bears to facilitate this hunt," says Day.
In an April 2015 draft rule, FWC laid out its reasons for the 2015 hunt
,: "As bear numbers have grown over the past decade and human population has increased, we entered the next phase of management, which is conflict management. In recent years conflict has increased dramatically. Bear calls have increased 400% over the last decade."
FWC's board is next scheduled to meet in Eastpoint, FL from June 22-23. The FWC agenda for the June meeting lists "bear management" as a staff report.
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