This is just a few of the areas and reasons FWC killed some of our bears in 2015.
Nick Wiley did not disclose that he is the executive director of FWC in the recently published article he wrote to the Orlando Sentinel. As executive director he is clearly
biased and so that articlle should be read as tongue in cheek, or fingers crossed behind the back.
Regarding the number of bear calls in 2002 – The bears were still on the endangered list.
In 2015 – The bears were not and FWC was asking people to call if they even saw a bear!
I’d say they were working their spin to get people to agree to a hunt. Not that people’s opinion matter but it’s better to instill fear, such as Marion Hammer with the NRA just did by saying bears are terrorizing our neighborhoods! What a lie! And that’s all we get from such hunting biased organizations and people.
The count of 4,350 did not deduct the over 600 bears killed last year!!! How’s that for spinning the truth?
I’m sick of all the lies just to try to justify a hunt that should not take place to please the mere 1% of the hunting populace in the state.
The bears are wandering out of their areas because people are feeding them and the forest are being dozed down. The oaks trees are being replaced with long-leaf slash pine which offers no food. The saw palmetto berries are being raped by illegals who sell them to the pharmaceutical industry. Wiley failed to emphasize the enormous problem there is with that! Omission of truth is lying!
Wiley mentioned the number of road kills. This in itself is controlling the numbers of bears along with the 129 that FWC killed last year and natural deaths. No need for a hunt.
We have “thousands of human-bear conflicts a year?” Seriously? A person seeing a bear in their yard is NOT a conflict! Keep it real. When you say these thing you know people are going to think there was interaction and that people were in danger! Shame on you!
Bears have increased all over the United States. Not just Florida. It’s not so much to do with FWC as it is with nature. And left to their own, nature will take care of the populations and control them.
For those reading this who do not know, “conservation” according to FWC includes hunting – killing. They do not “conserve.” They are mandated to provide hunting opportunities for hunters. That is their job!
The reason for Nick Wiley writing this article is to make the public trust the FWC in making the decision for having another bear hunt. Pure and simple.
Unfortunately, The Orlando Sentinel did not allow people who are not subscribers to even comment on this article. Guess they need the money.
If you want the truth about the bear hunts and the FWC, join a Facebook group devoted to them.
People owe it to our wildlife to be educated and fight for their lives.
Chuck O’Neal with Speak Up Wekiva and Senator Darren Soto have introduced a bill to restore and protect the habitat of our wildlife, in particular our bears.
As you know there has been a lot going on in the news about our black bears. There is so much I could tell you about them and the issues surrounding them that you probably
don’t even know. Most people don’t.
Their food sources in their habitat have been stripped. In some areas of the state the saw palmetto berries are so heavily harvested there are none left for the bears or other wildlife that depend on them.
Saw palmettos berries, according to one biologist is the most vital food source for bears.
These berries become ripe at a time when bears have to pack on pounds to survive winter
when they will lose up to 25% of their body weight. If a female doesn’t get enough food
her pregnancy will terminate.
For years our state forestry service sold permits for $10 a day for people to harvest these
berries on state land. Most of them are harvested by migrant workers who find themselves
out of work at the same time. They go into the forests and scrubs and pick tons upon tons
Just recently in June of this year a temporary moratorium was put on the harvesting of these
important berries by the commissioner of agriculture. This is only a one year ban. This will
hardly give the bears time to figure out that this natural food source is once again available
to them in their habitat.
Along with the saw palmetto berries, developments and deforestation is taking away much needed trees that produce acorns which are also needed for food by the bears and other wildlife. In one area of Ocala they are cutting down all the turkey oaks saying they are invasive even though they’ve been there for hundred years and produce much needed acorns.
It has been shown that when bears are not getting enough food in their habitat they will go out of it to find it. Many bears are now being found in neighborhoods throughout Florida foraging for food. And they find it in the source of garbage not properly kept by the homeowners.
The Black Bear Habitat Rehabilitation Act also addresses this problem. For too long governmental agencies, who were responsible for wildlife food resources and safety of citizens, have failed. We now have a problem on our hands and their go to answer was to kill the bears instead of using non-lethal methods.
With food sources back in tact, garbage secured, and everyone becoming bear wise, we should see a change in a short time without the need to kill our bears.
Please read more about this act.
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
I have been in Florida for just over three years, and what has brought me the most joy is the true beauty of the real Florida and the diverse wildlife, right here where I live, so close to the exact opposite, Disney World. I find it so hard to believe that when I came here bears were on the endangered list and now in just two days, they have hunted hundreds and hundreds of these beautiful creatures, way more than they are letting on with their official numbers since they don’t count the wounded that will die, the cubs that are orphaned and will probably die, those that were never turned in from private lands and hunters who were dishonest with their kills.
They didn’t even wait for the census to finish next year before deciding to exterminate so many , and by selling more permits than estimated bears in Florida basically set up a Black Friday type event with thousands of hunters out at one time, all intent on getting that bear.
Many true hunters were against this hunt, knowing it would be a massacre because these animals are not accustomed to being hurt by humans and are an easy target. In this case, science did not back up the hunt, but they refused to listen.
Many hunters had no such morals and reveled in the fact that they were so easy to kill. They killed many mothers that were lactating , cubs and very small bears. They baited the bears as well, preparing beforehand with cameras on their trees and bait. From tree stands they could easily kill a bear which had been accustomed to coming every day for the food they set out to bait them .They brought their children along to witness the carnage , there are many pictures of children posing with dead bears.
Nothing was ethical about this hunt, in the Eastern Panhandle area, they killed more than 3 times the quota they had laid out. Where we live, they surpassed their quota in one day and many hunters were so angry that they didn’t get to hunt for the two days since they had paid a measly $100 for the life of a bear. And mind you, the FWC said that they didn’t think that they would reach their quota in even a week of hunting since bears would be hard to find in the thick underbrush. They were warned, that like Georgia which killed off ten percent of the bear population in one day that this would not be the case and it would be easy in this terrain which is similar to Georgia’s. Instead they are spinning it to look like the fact so many bears were killed in a short space of time was because the bear population is thriving , trying to justify what they did, when in reality they set up an easy massacre selling twenty times more permits than the quota of bears. Now they state the funds will be used for bear management, a total farce as they could have so easily done the bear proof trash cans before resorting to this obvious trophy hunt.
As this short intelligent article by Rod Coronado, a brilliant man who has done much for the wolves and other wildlife of Wisconsin, and who came to observe this hunt,and who I was lucky enough to hear talk in person points out, this type of so called management doesn’t even work and can actually backfire.
People think that the bears had to be culled because they were proving to be a nuisance in neighborhoods but don’t realize that most of the killed bears were deep in the woods in public lands or private lands and few of the actual ‘nuisance’ bears would have been killed, and now there will be a lot of starving cubs which could provide even more of a nuisance.
The very next day after the hunt there was a picture of a bear eating someone’s trash in a neighborhood, which only serves to prove this point.
This problem could so easily have been solved with trash management, but the Florida Governor and FWC decided not to go that route.
I have learned a lot about darkness and evil in Florida over the last few days and now realize how much deeper this thing goes, with corruption at the highest levels of governance, land development deals,and hunters running the FWC.
Coming from Trinidad, I am not ignorant to how much corruption goes on at very level including hunting, our own national bird, the Scarlet Ibis was badly hunted, with government ministers buying the meat illegally. The national bird of Barbados is the pelican, ask anyone when’s the last time you saw a pelican there.
Surprisingly too, though they plan to hunt the endangered Florida panther next, I find that I have seen an outpouring of horror about this hunt from people in the Caribbean, England ,Australia and Canada, but not a whole lot of voices from Florida, which is sad since it is their beautiful land and animals being destroyed.
Perhaps Florida will eventually turn into one big concrete jungle, every place looking identical as the next, very sad and will happen if people do not find out how to go about supporting the changing of laws to protect their land and wildlife.
I know it’s a long battle, but I will continue to be a voice for the beautiful black bears.
Dear Florida black bears,
Today you woke in the Florida jungles to routine, perhaps your cubs, and a life that you know. Many of you have lived for years shielded under the canopy’s of palms and oaks deep in the heart of your Florida home. Perhaps you are aware that humans have encroached on your habitat and we have hit you with our cars. Still, you come into our neighborhoods that you once called home, when we foolishly leave our garage behind that teases your hunger. Because of this, humans will kill you starting today. We will shatter your quiet existance and pierce your bodies with our selfish hunger, to call your parts our trophy. Please know it’s not all of us. Know that we have fought tirelessly to protect your families and to resolve conflicts in peace to un-listening ears. Know in your final dark moments that you did not die in vain, and your voices will continue to be heard.
Well it looks like you are not going to do anything to stop this hunt. I knew you wouldn’t. You are not about conservation you are about killing. With influences of hunters on the board, the governor and his wife both hunters, all the hunters who have been grooming you to be their friends over the years and scratching your backs, you would never change your minds. Aliesa Priddy is bent on being able to kill bears on her ranch. Next is getting control of the panthers by the FWC so she will be able to kill them. It’s kill, kill, kill. Responsible methods to curtail the human/bear encounters have yet to be given a chance to work. And in the meantime 89 or more nuisance bears are dead. It’s one and done. According to Dr. Eason. You people are not suppose to be a hunting club but that’s what you’ve turned out to be and the majority of the people who voiced their dismay are not happy with you. We will not stop working to right this wrong. We are years behind the hunters and their power but we will grow and will not stop. Enough cronyism by a corrupt Governor . Enough wealthy ranchers, land developers, road builders, hunters, etc on the board creating a conflict of interest. Remove the word “Conservation” from your name and quit trying to dupe people. Your license plates that give the messages of caring about our wildlife. You do not. The depletion of the saw palmetto berries caused bears to move north and you know it. You were irresponsible in not doing anything about it all these years. All wildlife that has depended on them and you did nothing. The whole premise of this hunt was to usher in the hunting opportunities of bears for your token residents the hunters. You used the few attacks that were caused by irresponsible people to push the issue then when you saw that reasoning was not going to wash, you retracted and sited overpopulation. Clearly it’s overpopulation of people. And stupid people at that. You encourage people to call when they see a bear and then cry there are too many calls about bears so there must be too many? Come on! We’re not stupid. We know your games. Clean up you act and represent all residents not just those who are your buddies.
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 approximately 1,000 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.