I oppose black bear hunting in Florida – By Adam Sugalski

adam sugalski

I OPPOSE BLACK BEAR HUNTING IN FLORIDA.

The 2015 Florida Black hunt changed many of our lives, forever.
This is my story below that I am emailing to the FWC commissioners.

What is your story and how did this hunt affect your life?
The commissioners need to hear it.
https://myfwc.com/con…/fwc-staff/senior-staff/commissioners/

In 2015, I embarked on a journey that would forever change me; I learned that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was considering a bear hunt for the first time in 21 years, and on June 24, 2015, in a devasting blow, the FWC voted to have a black bear hunt.

It was time for me to switch gears from protesting circuses, and greyhound racing, to now take on a government agency, the NRA, the SCI, and trophy hunters. With time being of the essence, I quickly got to work and created a campaign called Stop The Florida Bear Hunt (STFBH). Stop The Florida Bear Hunt would later be at the forefront of the anti-bear trophy hunting movement.

We staged a 14 city protest as a last-ditch effort to stop the hunt. The protest was on October 23, 2015, the day before the hunt took place. Our efforts did little to sway the hearts and minds of the FWC Commissioners who voted to have the hunt, and the following day the bear hunt began.

I headed to Lake City as a “Bear Monitor” at check station 17.
My objective was to document and report the number of bears brought into the check station. There were 33 check stations statewide — each station had bear monitors. The purpose of the bear monitors was to ensure that the FWC called off the hunt as soon as they reached their bear kill quota.

In my lifetime, I have witnessed horrible animal atrocities from investigating circus abuse to raiding illegal slaughterhouses. When I graduated with my degree in photography and design, I would have never thought I’d be using it to document horrific animal abuse.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I call the worst day of my life. Lifeless black bear corpses were brought in.
I will never forget the apathy the trophy hunters displayed for the lives they had just taken. Hunters laughed and celebrated their kills as if they had just won the lottery. They handled the bodies as if they were trash.

I was shattered to my core, numb, yet resolute and faithful to my convictions I carried on. The bear hunt was called off early due to the alarming number of bears killed on the first day of the hunt. In the aftermath, a total number of 304 bears were killed, but that doesn’t account for the bears that weren’t brought into one of the 33 check stations statewide.

Every single bear brought in to check station 17 left with a piece of my heart. Of all the bears I saw that day, nothing touched me as profoundly as the slain nursing mother bear whose swollen breasts were a reminder of the now orphaned cubs she left behind.

Public outrage grew as photographs and stories surfaced in the wake of the hunt. We weren’t going to let the FWC get away with another unscientific, undemocratic hunt. We put the pressure on them. They would soon learn that their actions had consequences that would forever change the dynamics of the FWC.

This time we were prepared for a battle, our previous 14 city protest had now grown to 28 cities. We scheduled it for the weekend before a final vote was made on whether or not to proceed with a 2016 Florida black bear hunt. Our protest garnered mass media attention, with hundreds of protestors showing up to each protest location. After the protests, we prepared for a trip to Apalachicola, Florida.

On June 22, 2016, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted 4-3 against a 2016 black bear hunt. They also voted to have staff gather more information so that they could again vote the following year on whether to hold a 2017 hunt.

This was a bittersweet victory as we knew the fight was not over and would be on the table again in 2017.

Our campaign, Stop The Florida Bear Hunt, continued to evolve and gain momentum putting even more pressure on the FWC.

On April 19, 2017, FWC Commissioners agreed to revamp the bear management plan and report back in two years, which came after a motion to hold a 2017 bear hunt was voted down 4-3.

The FWC also stated that there would be no hunt in 2019, that they would only revisit where they were at in the process of revising the bear management plan.

Following our victory for the bears in Florida, we changed our name from Stop The Florida Bear Hunt to Bear Defenders. Bear Defenders was created with a mission to end bear hunting across the U.S. and provide other states with the tools needed to take action against bear hunting in their State.


Adam Sugalski owns One Protest (www.OneProtest.org) and is an ardent animal activist  in Florida

I oppose black bear hunting in Florida – By Adam Sugalski

Why FWC wants a bear hunt

bear hunt protest

To people who do not know the truth about bear hunting and what it is really about, you need to know.

The fact is that bear hunting is about the decline of hunting and FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) scrambling to try to find more money for their coffers.

They are even trying to get women and children to hunt as the older hunters who kept the TRADITION of hunting, age out. Bored hunters are thirsty for a trophy bear and are whining about wanting to hunt them.

Hunters are lying about bears and trying to make people who don’t know about bears,  be so afraid of them that they will think that we need a hunt. We do not. Bears seen in neighborhoods are usually there because people have food attractants such as garbage, birdfeeders, dirty barbecue grills, pet food and the like that attracts them frm their natural habitat out into the neighborhood.

Bears rarely attack humans. Dogs are far more dangerous so are mosquitos.  Our bears give bluff charges to scare away a threat when it is protecting its cubs.

Get the FACTS before you sentence hundreds of innocent bears to a bloody massacre with lactating mothers and their cubs killed. Cubs not killed are left motherless and there is NO rescue for them.

It is FWC’s job to provide hunting opportunities for hunters. FWC commissioners are all hunters. It is a biased agency. Their definition of “conservation” is to let a hunted species recover so that they can be hunted leaving a token number. They do not have the same definition for it that the public has. And “harvest” is to “kill” not to gather. Unless you mean to gather the dead bodies.

PLEASE, educate yourselves and secure your attractants. Go to www. bearsmart.com or http://www.beardefenders.org and learn. Join a Facebook group that is a bear loving group so that you get the true facts, not what hunters tell you.

And remember to beware of FWC they only have their’s and the hunter’s interests at heart.

(Photo credit: Barry Vaught  Photography)

Why FWC wants a bear hunt

Saw Palmettos Importance to Wildlife

saw palmetto berries for wildlife

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), is an important plant to wildlife and insects. Growing almost exclusively in the state of Florida, in lower Georgia and southeast Alabama.
All parts of the saw palmetto are used by some kind of wildlife or insects. They are eaten and used for cover and nesting.

More than 100 bird species, 27 mammals, 25 amphibians, 61 reptiles, and countless insects use saw palmetto as food and/or cover (Maehr and Layne 1996).

In the spring, the three-foot stalks bloom with small yellowish-white fragrant flowers. This attracts many insects including pollinators and the very important honey bee.
The leaves are a host plant to the palmetto skipper and monk butterflies.

In the fall the stalks give birth to berries that are high in fat content. Bears, foxes, raccoons, birds, and others eat the berries. The berries are essential for bears who have to fatten up before the denning season. Berries are on plants from August to October, the prime time for the bears to get their needed nutrition. Female bears must gain a lot of weight to be able to give birth. If they do not, the embryos will not implant and no cubs will be born.

saw palmentto stalks

These scrumptious berries (to wildlife), can be found in the local landscape, people’s yards and all over the state. You’d think that this would be enough for our bears and other wildlife and maybe for some wildlife it is, but with bears, they need to consume 20,000 calories a day during the fall.  And bears only live in certain areas, so for those areas, in particular, the berries and plants are especially needed.

The berries are believed to help benign prostatic hyperplasia. Studies have found both negative and positive results when compared to a placebo. Pharmaceuticals make claims that it does help, and thus they are a multi-billion dollar industry.
This industry has created a harvesting frenzy. The pickers glean as much as they possibly can to score big bucks from the buyers who in turn make a very handsome profit from the drug companies.

 

snakePickers actually risk their lives to gather these berries. The eastern diamondback rattler makes a home in the bushes. Bears frequent them. Biting insects as well. Then there are the over 90-degree temperatures that bring heatstroke and dehydration. The plant leaves are sharp and cut, thus the name “saw” palmetto. There are also risks of alligators and water moccasins if near water. But for $1.00 to $2.00 a pound and at 100 pounds an hour, the risk is worth it for most pickers who have low paying jobs otherwise.


 

It used to be that the berries were harvested mostly by migrant workers that didn’t have a crop to pick at the time of year that the berries are ripe, but since it was so lucrative, lots of folks jumped in. At one time the berries were bringing three to four dollars a pound.

Because of the importance of the berries to particularly bears, bear advocates fought to have some restrictions placed on the harvesting.
Thus the Florida Dept. of Agriculture put forth the following:

Pickers must now have a permit from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Unfortunately, this permit is free and workers under a crew leader are not required to have a permit.

It is unlawful to pick on any private land without the written consent of the owner along with their contact information.

It is unlawful to pick on any public, state, city or county land unless permission is granted by the proper authority and submitted for approval on a permit application.

Buyers, transporters or processors are not required to have a permit, but they are required to have the following on their person at all times:

A bill of lading
A copy of the harvester’s entire permit, which now includes a second page that contains the permission letter(s).

Buyers, transporters, and processors are required to have a copy of the harvester’s entire permit, which now includes a second page that contains the permission letter(s).

From reviewing posts by pickers, they report many buyers do not ask from any of these things. So, they do not have them.

This presents more governance needed by law enforcement who already have their hands full just busting illegal harvesters.

Further, The stalks that they remove will not produce blooms the next spring preventing insects and bees from having them to use.
There is no limit to the amount of berries that can be picked.

saw palmetto 5

Pictured above a local buyer readies his haul to take to Valensa, the pharmaceutical company that is one of the end buyers.  Local buyers set up at various locations and post their location on a Facebook page dedicated to getting this and other information out, like prices being paid. They often do not require any permits or permissions to be shown by the pickers. Some pickers and buyers use such websites to discretely contact one another for a rendezvous to exchange berries for money.  Keeping their location private is one way buyers provide a service for those who pick without permits or permissions.

So something needs to change.
The berry picking business is out of control.

Studies have not been done on the impact to wildlife yet, but it is believed that it may cause bears and others to go into neighborhoods searching for the food because of the lack of these berries.

The saw palmetto is listed as a commercially exploited plant. This doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal since it only requires getting a free permit, permission letter and then it’s a free for all.

Between 45 and 50 million pounds of berries are harvested each year in the United States, 80 percent of which is exported, according to estimates from Valensa International, a leading manufacturer based in Lake County. Most of these berries come from Florida.

For more visit on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Saw-Palmetto-Berries-For-Wildlife-109004287139364/

 

 

Saw Palmettos Importance to Wildlife