Two Orlando lawmakers want to take the bulls-eye off Florida black bears.
Measures proposed by state Sen. Linda Stewart and state Rep. Amy Mercado, both Democrats, would halt state-sanctioned bear hunts until July 2027 and set aside $1 million to help more people buy lock-top trash containers in communities prone to human-bear conflicts.
The bills also propose new rules against harvesting saw palmetto berries, a staple of the bear’s natural diet and banning the sale of logging rights in state forests and parks, which include areas designated as Florida black bear habitat.
“Bear protection is not just about … not shooting them,” Stewart said Wednesday at Lake Eola Park. “It’s also about [protecting] their habitat. ...”
She and Mercado discussed the measures with volunteer “bear warriors” — animal-welfare advocates who opposed the state’s 2015 bear hunt. A similar measure introduced last year by then-state Sen. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, died without a hearing.
Stewart was hopeful her tweaked version would be better received by the Republican-dominated Legislature. She said it incorporated changes suggested by the staff of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“There may very well be amendments,” she said. “But I don’t expect a fight.”
State Rep. Jason Brodeur, a Republican representing eastern Seminole County, questioned why the measures propose a hunting ban until 2027.
“I wonder if they have picked that date using the best available science through consultation with biologists at FWC or because it’s politically expedient,” he said in an email. “As evidenced by the recovery of the alligator from the 1960’s to the 1980’s, our wildlife programs work, especially with the advanced science and data collection we have now.”
Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.
Read more info at Orlando Weekly.
Bear Hunting Magazine does not agree with everything presented in these articles.