Bear Hunting

Judge Affirms Florida Bear Hunt

Oct 2, 2015

A judge has ruled Florida's first bear hunt in two decades may proceed later this month. The judge ruled against environmentalists who argue the hunt will damage the population of the animal that was removed from the state's threatened list in 2012.

Judge George Reynolds' decision came after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission appeared to shift its stance on a rule environmentalists had complained about.

Representatives of the state agency testified its executive director can end the hunt after the first day if its goal of 320 slain bears is met. Reynolds was satisfied.

Nearly two-dozen environmental groups are joining a legal effort aimed at stopping Florida's first bear hunt in two decades.They filed a "friend of court" brief Friday in Tallahassee in support of the lawsuit against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The groups include the Animal Legal Defense Fund, South Florida Wildlands Association and Stop the Florida Bear Hunt.

Heather Paul via Flickr

Environmentalists suing the state over the upcoming bear hunt are urging a judge to step in and stop the hunt before it starts next month. Speak Up Wekiva and activist Chuck O'Neal filed the motion in Leon County.

The motion disputes the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's claim that hunt rules will limit the number of slain bears to 320, pointing to a rule allowing hunters to kill an unlimited number of bears in the first two days of the hunt. That, they say, doesn’t protect the bears from over harvesting.

Gov. Rick Scott will not use executive authority to block the state's first bear-hunting season in more than two decades, despite pleas from animal-rights groups.

While anti-hunt groups have been collecting petitions and planning protests across the state on the eve of next month's hunt, the governor's office said Scott has left the issue up to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which has already voted to proceed.

Wildlife officials have approved the killing of 320 black bears next month during the state’s first bear hunting season in more than 20 years.

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