If you research “saw palmetto harvesting” you will find a myriad of articles regarding the problem. Tons of berries are being picked and it has to make an impact on the Florida Black Bear who’s diet depends greatly on these berries as do many other wildlife species. The places that have been dozed down taking trees that provide acorns, bushes, berries, seeds, host insects etc. all that bears eat.
These along with a fragmented forest and loss of habitat is pushing bears to the brink. The housing developments and businesses that were built where the forests once were are surely going to see bears roam from the forests edge in search of food. Especially when irresponsible homeowners leave garbage, bird feeders, barbeque grills and more, for their sensitive noses to smell and be enticed.
Regarding the saw palmetto picking there was a moratorium put on them for one year on state land. This will hardly help and for only one year is ridiculous. Also unless penalties are stiffened the poaching will continue. I’ve read articles of people just being let go or only having to pay a $500 fine.
As the price of berries go up, the more lucrative they become. People risk their lives picking these berries as the palmettos are home to rattlesnakes as well as other dangerous wildlife. They wouldn’t be picking if it was not profitable. Public and private lands will still be picked and this is unfortunate as it still effects wildlife that depend on them. One land owner said they were of “no value” to him and thus law enforcement was not able to arrest pickers since it was deemed as no loss. But it was a loss to wildlife.
Someone has to be the voice for the wildlife. Man is encroaching more than ever as the population in Florida keeps growing at a rate of 600 a day. The number of black bears killed on roads in Florida for 2014 was 227. Along with the numbers of nuisance kills, unknown poached bears, and bears that die of starvation, there is no reason to reduce the bear population. FWC does not even know how many bears there are and the count won’t be complete until 2016.
The bears killed in a senseless hunt will not be those bears who are coming in contact with humans. They will be just random bears. The FWC plans to limit the number of bears killed but has no real way of doing this. They cite that once they reach a certain number they will stop the hunting but that for the first two days there will be NO limit. They are trusting that hunters will report when they have killed a bear. But I don’t believe anyone who has paid $100 – resident and $300 – out-of-state for a license will stop hunting if they have not killed a bear. All of this is just bizarre and wreckless. We need to preserve our wildlife. Most of the commissioners including the governor who passed this hunt are hunters. Clearly there was an unfair bias to pass this.