Here’s one letter to Senator Nelson that was sent and was only replied with a generic comment that said nothing.
October 28, 2015
The slaughter of Florida’s Black Bears that transpired last Saturday and Sunday (Oct 24-25, 2015) can best be described as an unmitigated disaster. I have heard not one word from you about any position on this Black Bear Hunt. Frankly, I am no longer surprised by your lack of concern for what many Floridians hold dear to our hearts, namely protecting our native wildlife. I have written to you many times regarding many issues important to Floridians. I get a form letter thanking me for writing without any position taken by you. You have sold out the people of Florida. I suspect you plan to retire when your Senate term is up and are no longer concerned with what voters think or care about. I hope you are retiring since you are doing absolutely nothing to protect Florida.
Just in case you still have some conscience about defending Florida’s wildlife, here are some things for you to think about and perhaps do something about.
Are you aware that the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission (FWC) officially accepted public comments regarding the proposed bear hunt prior to their decision? 75% of 40,000 public comments received by FWC opposed the bear hunt. By all accounts and by a wide margin Floridian’s appear to wholeheartedly embrace the concept of compassionate conservation and are opposed to killing our black bears. Floridian’s have voted in favor of allocating money to preserve our native wildlife. We have a corrupt non-Floridian governor that cares naught about this state. It would take an entire book to lay out his egregious record.
Regarding our Black Bears, and without knowing the precise number of bears in Florida (the official study underway will not be completed until 2016) the FWC guesstimated there to be about 3,000 bears statewide. No one knows for certain. It is important to note that the Florida Black Bear was listed as endangered as recently as 2012. Many responsible conservationists strongly urged waiting until the study was completed, as did many responsible hunters who said they would not participate in this ill-advised hunt. The president of Florida’s primary hunting organization publicly refused to participate.
FWC stated they issued a total of 3,778 bear hunting permits, some to non-Florida residents. Does that strike you as a grossly high and irresponsible number considering 320 bears was the targeted maximum limit set? Hunters reportedly began taking aim throughout the state just before sunrise on Saturday, October 24. Within five minutes of the start of the bear hunt, one hunter had already shot a bear.
What we also know are the following reported breakdown numbers released by FWC staff (207 bears were killed in the Panhandle and Central Florida on Saturday, Oct 24 alone). Does that tell you something quite critical about the nature of this hunt? Many documented accounts from hunters was how easy it was to kill a bear, since bears had no fear of humans having been protected for 21 years. Many hunters joked about how naive the bears were. Does that give you a glimpse of the horrific picture millions of caring Floridians have? This was a slaughter in no uncertain terms; some media labeled it a genocide and rightly so. A laser beam is directed at Florida from all over the country and from around the world. Prior to the hunt, The New York Times wrote an opposing op-ed, as did the Huffington Post. Once again, Florida has ample reason to be ashamed of very bad policy and disastrous incompetence. Our precious black bears were in the cross hairs this time.
295 bears killed statewide as of Sunday Oct 25 (FWC numbers)
Bears Killed by REGION (FWC numbers)
East Panhandle – 112 (40 was the maximum allotted number set by FWC)
Central – 139 (100 was the maximum allotted number set by FWC)
North – 23
South – 21
All experts know that the actual number of bears killed was much higher than the officially released FWC numbers. A significant number of private lands across the state were open to hunters. We will likely never know the total number of bears killed. The entire population may have suffered irreversible damage. Reports from FWC officers and witnesses at the weigh stations stated that at least 1/3 of the dead bears were lactating females. Again, how does that strike you? Knowing that as many as 300 bear cubs (maybe more) are now orphaned and traumatized? Without their mother, most will die from lack of food and water or be killed by a coyote. Many of the killed females were pregnant.
Documented killing of bear cubs was reported at several weigh stations, cubs weighing far less than the required minimum of 100 lbs. As an example, one reported cub weighed 73 lbs., another weighed only 40 lbs., and there were more. One documented account was of a hunter stating he had to tear cubs away from their mother that he had shot. Are you getting some of the picture of this grossly mismanaged, immoral killing spree, wrought with criminal conduct? This was a failure and tragedy of astronomical proportions.
Millions of Floridians are in shock and mourning the loss of so many of our precious black bears, this amazing, unique subspecies of black bear found nowhere else. The reason they are dead? Primarily so trophy hunters, poorly named sportsmen could get their kicks.
Now, I ask you, Bill Nelson, a native Floridian, what are you going to do about this? You were elected by voters in Florida to represent the will of the people who have been paying your salary for decades. Six of the 7 FWC commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Scott voted for this bear hunt and their agency’s upper level management including Director, Nick Wiley, are responsible for it. In my opinion, those 6 commissioners should be fired or at the very least relieved of their duties until an independent investigation into violations and possible criminal acts relating to this bear hunt is completed. Since this occurred on Gov. Scott’s watch and under the supervision of his FWC appointees, he should resign.
I request a written reply to this important issue from you. I do not want the usual form letter from your aide thanking me for my opinion and please do not ignore me again.
Palm Bay, Florida