Trophy hunters should leave Florida’s bears alone

By on June 17, 2016 with 10 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Perhaps the biggest animal protection cause of the year in Florida is stopping the plan to renew the state’s first trophy hunting season on black bears in more than two decades.

I worked with so many concerned Floridians on stopping the hunting in the early 1990s, when the state had just a few hundred bears and hunters chased them down with packs of dogs and shot them from trees. At the time, the federal government recognized that the subspecies warranted federal protection but didn’t complete the action.

Today, after more than 20 years of piecemeal recovery, there may be more than 4,000 bears in the state, but there’s still no compelling rationale for a trophy hunting scheme. Last year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a weeklong hunt in mid-October, sold nearly as many permits (3,776) as there are bears, and set a “harvest” quota of 321 bears. After just two days, trophy hunters, taking advantage of bears who hadn’t been accustomed to people intent on shooting them on first sight, killed more than 300 of the animals – including 36 lactating mothers. The state was forced to put the word out to hunters in the field to stand down so that they wouldn’t kill far more animals than the quota allowed.

Since then, opposition to this very unpopular hunt has only surged. Four counties and 13 cities have approved resolutions opposing it. Newspaper editorial boards, including the Orlando Sentinel and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, have weighed in to express their opposition. Lifelong hunters are speaking out and saying the hunt should not proceed. There are 28 protests scheduled this weekend around the state in advance of next week’s June 22nd Commission meeting in Eastpoint. One commissioner, a prominent businessman nicknamed Alligator Ron, has been outspoken in saying that the people of the state don’t want the killing to proceed. That was also the finding of an HSUS poll conducted by a reputable polling firm in the state, revealing that more than two-thirds of Florida residents oppose a trophy hunt.

Yes, it’s true that with 20 million people in the state, bears and people occasionally run into each other. But trophy hunters aren’t targeting problem bears – they are going after the biggest bears there are, and they are going after them in the state’s most remote forests.

A trophy hunt is as good for bear control as a strategy of randomly picking people out of a crowd in order to conduct crime control. A better strategy to reduce bear-human interactions would involve educational outreach, proper trash management, and enforced feeding bans.

Commissioners are appointed by the governor but they are charged with taking stock of public opinion and heeding the will of the citizens of the state. The overwhelming message is, manage bear-human interactions humanely and can the trophy hunt. Nobody eats bears, and nobody thinks that the random killing of bears will do a damn thing to reduce the odds of the occasional bear-human encounter.

Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Fran Leard says:

    I thought all trophy hunters have been banned. These cowards can’t continue to kill all our wildlife and upset our echo system. Please put an end to this inhumane treatment since the babies need their parents.

  2. margarita clayton says:

    What’s happened to this nation? Is it leaning towards more violence? It grabs any chance to use their adorable guns – to kill so any type of animal since it’s free with no consequences. Kill, kill, & more kill – how FUN. Distorted minds!! EVIL like ISSIS. Leave the animals alone. They are on this earth to keep it rolling; they’re part of the ecosystem. Let’s teach love, kindness, compassion which makes for a gentler nation, a happier nation. Is that common sense? Thank you HSUS.for protecting our most vulnerable.

  3. margarita clayton says:

    Trophy hunting makes these EVIL people feel superior, in control, powerful. Attacking the most vulnerable is cowardly, the opposite of what the killers want to portray to others. But, instead they are disgusting, evil like ISSIS.

  4. Black Bear Defender says:

    Contact Adam Sugalski @ and find out what is really going on. 28 city statewide protest against this hunt tomorrow, which is the biggest single protest in the history of the US against trophy hunting.

  5. DIDI MAGNIN says:

    I will never understand wh some “sub-humans” want to destroy animals …

  6. Doris Muller says:

    The bears are docile, compassionate creatures compared to the evil human predators who stalk, torture, and slaughter them for the sheer joy of killing. And, it’s legal! Taking a life IS not conservation. Animals in no why benefit from being killed by human predators. Hunters may detest the ISIS killers, but the hearts of both are the same. They are serial killers who do what they do, for self gratification.

  7. Fawn Avant says:

    Thank you so much Wayne Pacelle for such a great article. It’s good to know you were a part of the past ignorance to literally annihilate our Florida Black Bears and worked so hard to correct it. We citizens of Florida and the World for that matter are trying desperately to change it as well. It’s hard to understand why and how this is even happening today. Everyone can see the destruction of our wildlife habitat in the forest and development on thousands of acres. There are not too many bears, there are too many people and the ones that are here want to keep Florida the natural and beautiful place we love.

  8. Joan Downey says:


  9. Heike Karimzadeh says:

    I hope,for the future they can prohibite all huntings!I think,this black bear is a special kind.We should care about to keep him.

  10. KIKUE NISHIO says:


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