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

4Oceans – A look at what a “Cause” business looks like.

4ocean-bracelet-sea-turtle-bracelet-6556490235962_grande

I hate deception. And when I see it, I usually have to talk about it.
Hence this about 4Ocean.

Get rich quick scheme. That’s what 4Ocean has discovered and they are making
millions. And please note, they are NOT a charity. They are a for-profit business.

You would think people would do a little checking into something before they go
all out promoting a company. But that’s what passion does. It gets you so excited
that you lose your common sense red flags. And it’s that passion that 4Ocean
has capitalized on.

This company started out ordering from a company like Aliexpress or Alibaba
out of China with vendors that make bracelets for pennies and sells them for under a dollar. 4Ocean figured out that they can imply that they are saving the ocean, the turtles, the whales, you name it and charge  $20 bucks for these bracelets, plus shipping and make a handsome profit.

Well, before long they started getting questioned by people. How do you save
the ocean, the turtles, sharks etc? By now, they had made enough money to buy some equipment or have signage put on a boat to make them look more legit. Then
as time went on they figured out they could go out in their Florida area ocean
and pick up a little bit of garbage and they would be even more valid.

  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash-most of it plastic -is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.   Think about that and how much of an impact one pound of trash is being pulled (picture a can of soup), from the ocean times only millions is doing.  I’m thinking at a rate of 14 BILLION pounds per YEAR – this is nothing!   It’s like trying to empty the bathtub with a thimble as the faucet is running. Ludicrous!

Anyway, back to 4Ocean, from there they blossomed, (meanwhile raking in more and more money) getting a captain for a boat, flags, and other paraphernalia with their name on it and soliciting volunteers who would gladly help them. After all, they were helping to clean the ocean. From what I understand they take their hauls of trash and sell them for even more profit.

Their bracelets, under scrutiny, went from being just what they found on a Chinese website with turtles, dolphins, or whatever they could use to create a cause for,(Remember, they have to appeal to people’s passions) to getting a charm logo on them and being made of recycled plastic. Not the plastic from the ocean, however, the plastic in India. Be it whatever. (They now buy from India)

Currently, they offer different colors of the same bracelet without the cute little turtles, etc., and they offer you a set of bracelets you can buy all
at one time to support many causes in one fail swoop. “One pound of garbage
for every bracelet bought.” You have to wonder who is keeping track of that.
And by the way, nothing else seems to be being done except the trash and
a donation to each cause, which is unknown. I really wish their “sponsors,”
which are the causes they send a token to, would not connect their
name to them. Maybe there is some kind of agreement, like “we will donate
to you if you will sponsor us.”  I’m sure there has to be something like that.

You can see here (https://4ocean.com/collections/all-products) some of the
many causes they have tried to appeal to. Same bracelet, different colors,
all with their logo and $20 a pop. I bet they are paying fifty cents for these
now. Doesn’t it make more sense to take your $20 and send it to the
charitable organization you want to help so they get the entire $20 and not
some minute fraction of it? They, after all, are the ones that are really making
a difference. Remember, 4Ocean is NOT a charity.

It doesn’t take much Googling to find comments about this company and their
shady business practices. One such is Reddit, where some smart people have realized
what a sham this is. https://www.reddit.com/r/IsItBullshit/comments/8sqmdh/isitbullshit_are_4ocean_bracelets_really/

As I was writing this and looking at 4Ocean’s “shop,” I saw that they are selling water bottles with their logo on them too. So I went searching for the water bottles to find out how much they cost, when I stumbled upon another company doing the same thing 4Oceans is doing only they will plant trees and they are not the only other cause business, there must be tons! I’m remembering the sock business that donates socks and there is a cuddly animal or doll business that donates meals to starving children. I’m telling you this is a lucrative business! It’s called a “Cause” business. And inherently there is nothing wrong with attaching a cause to your business. People like that. The problem is when you decieve people by what you are doing. And that’s how 4Oceans started out and continues to do in some fashion.

You know, as long as you give some small portion to the cause that you claim you are helping, you can do this too. You don’t have to be a charity yourself. Genius, Suckers!

4Ocean - 4Profit
It’s all about the money.

Legitimate Charities to Give To:

https://www.underseas.com/blog/best-marine-conservation-organizations-donate-earth-day/

https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/

4Oceans – A look at what a “Cause” business looks like.

Fire Destroys Animal Sanctuary and Home

https://www.gofundme.com/help-second-chance-wildlife-sanctuary-rebuild?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=fb_dn_postdonate_r&fbclid=IwAR2NZLTMkQZEj3BziA6qNUxWdjzmYbggu09jTZ6o4OsnkUiGgNXpFuH7aqY

Please help to rebuild Jim’s Wildlife Sanctuary and his home.

Jim is an amazing person. He has a deep love of all animals and an unquenchable spirit of love and kindness to all.  He humanely traps animals to help fund the sanctuary and is an accomplished artistic painter which also helps him with the sanctuary and his livelihood.

Recently there was a terrible fire that burned Jim’s home on the property and killed many animals.  Jim was asleep when a peacock began squawking which woke Jim up. He was only able to rescue one of his pet dogs that slept with him.

Many animals were in cages below the two-story home that sat on stilts.  They all lost their lives.  Jim lost everything.   His clothing, phone, computer, painting supplies, you name it.  He was left with just the clothes on his back.

Although Jim has lots of support, it is going to take a lot to rebuild.  And even after that the sanctuary will need to be funded.  If you can donate, you can donate through the above GoFundMe account or through Jim’s website at: http://www.secondchancewildlifesanctuary.org           – Thank you!

 

 

 

 

Fire Destroys Animal Sanctuary and Home

Yes, FWC Kills Bears!

Recently an activist stated that FWC does not kill bears.  How bazaar coming from a bear activist who has been involved in stopping the bear hunts.   Anyone can request these records from FWC.

To prove my point about FWC killing bears, I am including some images of records sent to me from FWC of the bears that they have killed during 1/11/15 to 4/11/16. These records do not come color-coded. I did that so I could reference certain things more easily.

bear deaths 2bear deaths 3bear deaths 4bear deaths 1

Yes, FWC Kills Bears!

Spanky, the Death of a Neighborhood Bear – Letter to FWC

This letter was shared and was given permission to reprint.

tavaresbear1

An Open Letter to FWC Executive Director Wiley, Chairman Yablonski, and Commissioners
On October 24th, 2016, a mature, male black bear was illegally shot and killed in my subdivision in Tavares, Lake County. To you, this event may mean nothing more than an additional task for your Law Enforcement Division. To me, and to many of my neighbors, this event was a vicious, senseless crime, and a heartbreaking metaphor for the larger plight of Florida’s wildlife. I would like you to understand what the death of this bear means to us, and to recognize the broader implications of what has just happened here.
I have an intensely personal stake in this case. I grew up in the city of Detroit, Michigan – not exactly the best place for wildlife viewing. In 2006, I was fortunate enough to be able to build my current home, which overlooks one of the last undeveloped parcels of land within the city limits of Tavares. For the last ten years, my family and I have experienced the company of owls, ospreys, a bobcat, coyotes, and even a diamondback rattlesnake. But, since 2009, the animal we most enjoyed was “Spanky,” the bear, whose pathway between “wilderness” and “civilization” took him past our back door.
You probably think it is inappropriate, even silly, for ordinary people like us to give wild animals names. Perhaps we should have given him an impersonal, scientific designation, like B2009. But, to us, the bear was not just an entry in a database or a red dot on a map: he was an individual, a neighbor, virtually a member of our extended family. The person who intentionally took him from us has stolen one of the most cherished parts of our lives – a living being who connected us to wild Florida in a way that nothing else can, adding a magical quality to a daily routine otherwise dominated by long hours of work. When we found ourselves asking why we were working so hard – what we were working for – this solitary bear helped provide a better answer than anything our realtor told us in 2006.
As you may have seen from the television interviews with some of my neighbors, our bear had never presented a threat to our safety. We had many “up close and personal” encounters with Spanky over the years, and not once did he act aggressively. His worst offense was to break into our screened porch – lured in by the irresistible aromas of a recent fish-frying session – but even then we simply shooed him out and realized that we were more responsible for the problem than he was. We learned how to be “bear wise,” and thus for seven years we and Spanky were able to coexist quite happily. For the small price of simple changes in behavior, we reaped the great benefit of having a beautiful animal in our lives.
Your staff often refer to wild animals like Florida black bears as “renewable natural resources.” Spanky was not a “resource.” He was a unique character, living the best life he could in the diminished habitat we humans had left for him, and doing it with a gentle dignity that deserved, and received, our respect. Nor was he “renewable.” He is gone. He will not be – can not be – replaced. We do not mean this in a purely sentimental sense, for the little pocket of habitat that served as his home is far too isolated to ever again receive a bear, unless by some miracle. And the sad truth is that there is scant time for even a miracle to occur, as much of the undeveloped land in question will surely be converted into habitat for humans within the next few years. When we protest, we are told that we can not stand in the way of “progress,” and left to wonder what amount of impact fees can ever compensate a community for the loss of its wild heart.
One might have hoped, at least, that Florida’s “Wildlife Conservation” Commission would share our concerns about the crushing of many wild hearts across the state, yet your response to the killing of our bear was chilling. Mr. Workman – echoing a long line of similar statements in bear-related press releases – told the Leesburg Daily Commercial that your agency “diligently works to limit the challenges presented by our state’s large black bear population, which has been scientifically estimated to be over 4,000 bears.” In these circumstances, it is hard to imagine a more intellectually perverse and morally reprehensible comment.
Your representation of Florida’s black bear situation is exactly backwards. The bear population that you continually refer to as “large and growing,” or “robust and resilient,” is in fact only 0.02% of the human population, a massive disparity perfectly captured by the isolation of our bear, alone amid thousands of people. And his fate – deliberately killed by a human of defective character – poses the question that should be of central concern to any conservation agency worthy of the name; to wit, how to limit the challenges presented to our small black bear population by a vastly larger and infinitely more destructive human population?
It seems to me that there are two very obvious reasons for your blatant and repeated reversal of the proper perspective. First, Florida is “open for business” and your constitutional independence will no more impede the commercial juggernaut rampaging across our state than our city’s zoning board. Beyond this, though, lies a transparent attempt to convince the public, through a steady “drip, drip, drip” of agency messaging, that the state’s bear population is “too large” and must therefore be “managed” by hunting. This being the case, why should any citizen of Florida reporting a wildlife crime expect a satisfactory resolution, when the very agency in charge of the investigation seeks to provide hunters with an “opportunity” to kill the same animals, just under more “regulated” conditions?
In order to demonstrate your competence to protect our wildlife from those who have no more respect for your regulations than they do for God’s creatures, you must first acknowledge the consequences of your own actions. Our bear was killed on the one-year anniversary of last year’s bear hunt. This is surely no coincidence. The killer was clearly disgruntled about being denied a legal “opportunity” to kill this (or perhaps some other) bear, so he decided to flout your authority and have some illegal fun instead. (The “resource,” of course, was completely wasted, because no part of “it” was “harvested.” Maybe that, if nothing else, will command your attention.) Had you not decided to permit a bear hunt in 2015, this uniquely despicable motivation would never have arisen, and our bear would most likely still be with us, enriching our lives as he had for years before. Allowing hunting sent a message that bears were “fair game,” a message that continues to ring in certain ears long after the “season” ended. When you now attempt to outlaw the “taking” of bears you are, in effect, speaking out of both sides of your mouth, and one can only wonder how many other bears have died without media attention as a result of the signal you sent.
I do not, therefore, expect you to care about any sense of “justice” for our bear, even though almost all well-adjusted people believe that he deserves it. But I do imagine that you might wish to protect the credibility of your agency by proving that you are, in fact, capable of conducting a vigorous investigation of a repugnant wildlife crime. For if you can not apprehend and prosecute those who willfully violate your regulations, then your claim that hunting is “regulated” will crumble along with my shattered dream. And if you do not stand up for the remaining animals who are about to be swept away by the rising human tide – if you allow them to be shot in the back, just like Spanky – then the character of your agency will itself be “fair game” for all Floridians who shared a dream similar to mine.
Spanky was a “good ambassador” for his species, winning many friends in our community. The same can not be said for the human who took his life. As stakeholders in the conservation of Florida’s black bear, we must now rely on your agency to hold the killer accountable for his actions, and to keep us notified of your progress at all phases of the investigation. Having contributed to the climate that fomented this crime, you owe us no less. The debt you owe to Spanky, however, can never be repaid.
Sincerely,
Jacqueline Elfers Nicholson,
Tavares, FL

 

Spanky, the Death of a Neighborhood Bear – Letter to FWC