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Florida Issues “Open Season” Bear-Hunting Rules as Humane Society Calls For Delay

| May 13, 2015

black bear hunting florida rules

Won’t be much fun growing up in Florida now. (FWC)

Rules for the state’s first bear hunt in more than 20 years have been published as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is expected next month to give final approval to the hunt.


The posting of the bear-hunting rules came as the Humane Society has reached out to Gov. Rick Scott to halt the pending hunt because the commission has yet to determine how many bears are in Florida.

“This is very premature,” said Kate MacFall, the Humane Society’s Florida director. “They haven’t even finished the count. They don’t even know about the bear population.”

The society has not heard back from Scott.

The proposed bear-hunting rules were published Tuesday in the Florida Administrative Register and outline how the hunt is expected to occur in four regions of the state starting Oct. 24. (See the principal rule below.)

The hunt is considered one way to control the bear population as Florida has seen a growing number of bear and human conflicts.

The wildlife commission on April 15 gave tentative approval to the hunt and is expected to take a final vote the week of June 22 in Sarasota.

The proposed rules were issued after two black bears, both estimated to weigh more than 400 pounds, were killed this month in separate collisions with cars outside Micanopy and Hawthorne, both in Alachua County.

Opponents of the proposed hunt have argued the state should consider relocating problem bears and that people need to be held more responsible for leaving out unsecured food and trash that attracts bears.

“It’s a trash problem,” MacFall said. “The bears are attracted to trash, and that is where the focus should be, large-scale trash management.”

State lawmakers this spring approved a bill (HB 7021) that would in part increase penalties for people charged a fourth time with feeding bears and alligators not in captivity. The charge would be a third-degree felony. Currently, a fourth offense of illegally feeding wildlife within a 10-year period is a first-degree misdemeanor.

The bill has yet to be sent to Scott.

The hunt, meanwhile, is expected to last from two to six days, depending on when quotas are reached in the different regions — the eastern Panhandle, Northeast Florida, east-central Florida (including Flagler) and South Florida.

Diane Eggeman, director of the commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, said the agency expects to have hunt quota numbers ready for the commission to approve in September.

“We should have the new estimates from the South and Central bear management units sometime this summer,” Eggeman said. “There is a chance that they’ll be ready by the June meeting, but that is unlikely.”

The hunt will target less than 20 percent of the population in the four bear-management areas.

Black bears were placed on the state’s threatened list in 1974, when there were between 300 and 500 across Florida. At the time, hunting black bear was limited to three counties. In 1994, the hunting season was closed statewide.

In moving forward with the plans for the hunt, the state commission has used 2002 numbers, which estimate there are a combined 2,500 black bears in the four regions.

Under the proposed rules, the cost of the hunt would be $100 for Floridians and $300 for non-Floridians. There had been talk by commissioners of lowering the fee for Florida residents to $50, as it is unknown how many will pay to join the hunt.

Each hunter would be limited to one bear, and the kill would have to be registered and tagged within 12 hours.

Also, hunters would be prohibited from killing bears within 100 yards of active game-feeding stations.

–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida

Notice of Proposed Rule

FISH AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COMMISSION

Freshwater Fish and Wildlife

RULE NO.: RULE TITLE:

68A-13.004 Hunting Regulations for Non-Migratory Game and Issuance of Antlerless Deer Permits

PURPOSE AND EFFECT: The purpose of the proposed rule amendment is to establish an open season for taking black bear and associated regulations. The effect of the proposed rule amendment will be to enable the agency to better manage black bear populations.

SUMMARY: The proposed rule amendment would establish an open season for taking black bears in the East Panhandle, North, Central, and South Bear Management Units (BMUs); establish a daily, possession, and season limit of one black bear; provide for harvest objectives for each BMU to be established by Order of the Executive Director after approval of the Commission; and require that all bear taken must be checked and tagged at a Commission designated check station within 12 hours of recovery. Additionally, the proposed rule amendment would provide non-substantive technical changes, such as grammatical corrections, language standardization, or clarification of existing provisions.

SUMMARY OF STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED REGULATORY COSTS AND LEGISLATIVE RATIFICATION:

The Agency has determined that this will not have an adverse impact on small business or likely increase directly or indirectly regulatory costs in excess of $200,000 in the aggregate within one year after the implementation of the rule. A SERC has not been prepared by the Agency.

The Agency has determined that the proposed rule is not expected to require legislative ratification based on the statement of estimated regulatory costs or if no SERC is required, the information expressly relied upon and described herein: The nature of the rule and the preliminary analysis conducted to determine whether a SERC was required

Any person who wishes to provide information regarding a statement of estimated regulatory costs, or provide a proposal for a lower cost regulatory alternative must do so in writing within 21 days of this notice.

RULEMAKING AUTHORITY: Article IV, Section 9, Florida Constitution.

LAW IMPLEMENTED: Article IV, Section 9, Florida Constitution.

A HEARING WILL BE HELD AT THE DATE, TIME AND PLACE SHOWN BELOW:

DATES AND TIMES: During the Commission’s regular meeting June 23-25, 2015, 1:30 p.m. on the first day and 8:30 a.m. each day thereafter.

PLACE: Hyatt Regency, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 5 days before the workshop/meeting by contacting: the ADA Coordinator, at (850)488-6411. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).

THE PERSON TO BE CONTACTED REGARDING THE PROPOSED RULE IS: Diane R. Eggeman, Director, Division of Hunting and Game Management, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED RULE IS:

68A-13.004 Hunting Regulations for Non-Migratory Game; and Issuance of Antlerless Deer Permits and Private Lands Deer Management Permits.

The hunting regulations for non-migratory game shall be as follows unless otherwise amended by the Commission, provided that regulations for hunting on wildlife management areas shall be as established by specific rule.

(1) Bag and possession limits:

(a) through (c) No change.

(d) Bear: daily, possession and season bag 1.

(2) No change.

(3) Open seasons:

(a) Antlered deer:

1. Zone A: Opening the third Saturday in September and closing 29 days thereafter and reopening the Saturday before the fourth Thursday in November and closing the first Sunday in January.

(b) through (d) No change.

(e) Gray squirrel: Opening the second Saturday of October and closing the first Sunday in March. Opening October 1 and closing March 31 for falconry.

No open season on fox squirrels.

(f) No change.

(g) Bear:

1. East Panhandle, North, Central, and South BMUs: Opening the Saturday prior to the last Saturday in October and closing 6 days thereafter. If a BMUs harvest objective, established pursuant to subparagraph 2., is attained prior to the season close and on or after the second day of the season, that BMU’s season shall close at 11:59 p.m. on the day its harvest objective is attained.

2. The harvest objective for each BMU shall be as established by Order of the Executive Director, after approval of the Commission, and shall be based on the proportion of the BMU population available for harvest consistent with biologically sustainable population objectives for each BMU.

3. All bear taken shall be checked and tagged within 12 hours of recovery at a Commission designated check station. The tag shall remain affixed to the hide until it is tanned or mounted.

(g) through (h) Relettered (h) through (i)

(4) through (5) No change.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 8-1-79, Amended 5-19-80, 6-4-81, 6-21-82, 7-1-83, 7-1-84, 7-1-85, Formerly 39-13.04, Amended 6-1-86, 5-10-87, 6-8-87, 5-1-88, 7-1-89, 7-1-90, 7-1-91, 7-1-92, 7-1-93, 3-1-94, 7-1-94, 7-1-96, 10-28-97, 4-27-98, 12-28-98, Formerly 39-13.004, Amended 7-1-01, 5-13-02, 10-16-02, 7-1-05, 7-1-06, 7-1-08, 7-1-10, 1-1-11, 7-26-12, 7-1-13, 6-1-13, 7-1-14, 7-2-14, 7-1-15, .

Hunting Dogs:

RULE NO.: RULE TITLE:

68A-12.007 Hunting Dogs; Molesting Game in Closed Season; Training; Field Trials; Prohibited for Certain Hunting

PURPOSE AND EFFECT: The purpose of the proposed rule amendment is to establish a prohibition on the use of dogs for bear hunting. The effect of the proposed rule amendment will be to enable the agency to better manage this wildlife resource.

SUMMARY: The proposed rule amendment would prohibit the use of dogs for taking bear but allow dogs on leashes to be used for trailing shot bear. Additionally, the proposed rule amendment would provide non-substantive technical changes, such as grammatical corrections, language standardization, or clarification of existing provisions.

SUMMARY OF STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED REGULATORY COSTS AND LEGISLATIVE RATIFICATION:

The Agency has determined that this will not have an adverse impact on small business or likely increase directly or indirectly regulatory costs in excess of $200,000 in the aggregate within one year after the implementation of the rule. A SERC has not been prepared by the Agency.

The Agency has determined that the proposed rule is not expected to require legislative ratification based on the statement of estimated regulatory costs or if no SERC is required, the information expressly relied upon and described herein: The nature of the rule and the preliminary analysis conducted to determine whether a SERC was required

Any person who wishes to provide information regarding a statement of estimated regulatory costs, or provide a proposal for a lower cost regulatory alternative must do so in writing within 21 days of this notice.

RULEMAKING AUTHORITY: Article IV, Section 9, Florida Constitution

LAW IMPLEMENTED: Article IV, Section 9, Florida Constitution

A HEARING WILL BE HELD AT THE DATE, TIME AND PLACE SHOWN BELOW:

DATES AND TIMES: During the Commission’s regular meeting June 23-25, 2015, 1:30 p.m. on the first day and 8:30 a.m. each day thereafter

PLACE: Hyatt Regency, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 5 days before the workshop/meeting by contacting: the ADA Coordinator, at (850)488-6411. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).

THE PERSON TO BE CONTACTED REGARDING THE PROPOSED RULE IS: Diane R. Eggeman, Director, Division of Hunting and Game Management, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED RULE IS:

68A-12.007 Hunting Dogs; Molesting Game in Closed Season; Training; Field Trials; Prohibited for Certain Hunting.

(1) No change.

(2) The purpose and intent of this subsection is to empower the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, upon the complaint compliant of a landowner or lessee, to enforce against the unauthorized use of dogs for hunting. No person owning, having the care of, or using any dog shall permit such dog to trail, pursue or molest wildlife on the lands of another person without written permission from the landowner or lessee of said lands. Written permission shall be in the possession of each person using such dog on the lands of another person, and shall be presented for inspection upon request of any Commission wildlife officer or other law enforcement officer as referred to in subsection 68A-3.002(3), F.A.C.

(3) through (10) No change.

(11) Taking bear by aid of a dog is prohibited except that dogs on leash may be used for trailing shot bear.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 8-1-79, Amended 6-22-80, 6-21-82, 7-27-83, 7-5-84, 7-1-85, Formerly 39-12.07, Amended 4-11-90, 3-1-94, 7-1-94, 9-7-97, Formerly 39-12.007, Amended 12-9-99, 8-22-04, 7-17-05, 7-1-08, 7-1-10, .

Bear-Hunting Units:

RULE NO.: RULE TITLE:

68A-13.0001 Definitions

PURPOSE AND EFFECT: The purpose of the proposed rule amendment is to include new language establishing bear management units (BMUs) within the state. The effect of the proposed rule will be to enable the agency to better manage black bears.

SUMMARY: The proposed rule amendment defines bear management units (BMUs) for the purpose of managing black bears within the state.

SUMMARY OF STATEMENT OF ESTIMATED REGULATORY COSTS AND LEGISLATIVE RATIFICATION:

The Agency has determined that this will not have an adverse impact on small business or likely increase directly or indirectly regulatory costs in excess of $200,000 in the aggregate within one year after the implementation of the rule. A SERC has not been prepared by the Agency.

The Agency has determined that the proposed rule is not expected to require legislative ratification based on the statement of estimated regulatory costs or if no SERC is required, the information expressly relied upon and described herein: The nature of the rule and the preliminary analysis conducted to determine whether a SERC was required

Any person who wishes to provide information regarding a statement of estimated regulatory costs, or provide a proposal for a lower cost regulatory alternative must do so in writing within 21 days of this notice.

RULEMAKING AUTHORITY: Article IV, Section 9, Florida Constitution.

LAW IMPLEMENTED: Article IV, Section 9, Florida Constitution.

A HEARING WILL BE HELD AT THE DATE, TIME AND PLACE SHOWN BELOW:

DATES AND TIMES: During the Commission’s regular meeting June 23-25, 2015, 1:30 p.m. on the first day and 8:30 a.m. each day thereafter.

PLACE: Hyatt Regency, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, FL 34236.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any person requiring special accommodations to participate in this workshop/meeting is asked to advise the agency at least 5 days before the workshop/meeting by contacting: the ADA Coordinator, at (850)488-6411. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please contact the agency using the Florida Relay Service, 1(800)955-8771 (TDD) or 1(800)955-8770 (Voice).

THE PERSON TO BE CONTACTED REGARDING THE PROPOSED RULE IS: Diane R. Eggeman, Director, Division of Hunting and Game Management, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

THE FULL TEXT OF THE PROPOSED RULE IS:

68A-13.0001 Definitions.

When used in this rule chapter, the terms and phrases listed below have the meaning provided:

(1) through (2) No change.

(3) Bear management unit (BMU) – The following geographical portions of the state:

(a) East Panhandle BMU – The counties of Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington.

(b) North BMU – The counties of Baker, Columbia, Duval, Hamilton, Nassau, Suwannee, and Union.

(c) Central BMU – The counties of Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, and Volusia.

(d) South BMU – The counties of Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach.

Rulemaking Authority Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. Law Implemented Art. IV, Sec. 9, Fla. Const. History–New 7-2-14, 7-1-15,

.

BE ADVISED THAT THESE PROPOSED RULES MAY BE FILED FOR ADOPTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE FOLLOWING THE COMMISSION MEETING AT WHICH THEY ARE CONSIDERED IF THE RULES ARE NOT CHANGED. IF CHANGED, THE RULES MAY BE FILED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER PUBLICATION OF A NOTICE OF CHANGE IN THE F.A.R.

NAME OF PERSON ORIGINATING PROPOSED RULE: Diane R. Eggeman, Director, Division of Hunting and Game Management, Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

NAME OF AGENCY HEAD WHO APPROVED THE PROPOSED RULE: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

DATE PROPOSED RULE APPROVED BY AGENCY HEAD:

DATE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE DEVELOPMENT PUBLISHED IN FAR: January 8, 2015

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8 Responses for “Florida Issues “Open Season” Bear-Hunting Rules as Humane Society Calls For Delay”

  1. confidential says:

    To be fair game give the bears a shotgun to defend themselves!
    This is awful as we take over their territory with developments and housing and now we kill them because they lack sufficient food and come to forage among us? Have all residents to learn and live with our bears and wildlife other than complain about them. What a pathetic way to generate FL revenue.
    No wonder Mother Earth wants to obliterate us all with earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes and wars, simply because we humans lack compassion for all living things! I e-mailed the FL Wild Life Management and our representatives and looks like they wiped themselves with peoples pleas. Bears come around,,, then don’t leave food out, take your garbage out at time of pick up and drive slower on bear known areas to avoid collision. Don’t go around shooting bears because we took their habitat! Shame!

  2. Americanidiot says:

    And lets outlaw hunting deer, rabbit,dove, duck, geese, quail, squirrel and whatever else people can think of. Dont forget fishing too. Then all that will be left is some tree/bear hugging folks holding hands in a circle singing kumbaya around a campfire. That is until a few bears show up!

  3. Kevin says:

    There is nothing “humane” in killing these fellow mammals unless by “humane” one describes the worst of our humanity. Yes, when we see what man does to his/her fellow man then slaughtering these innocent creatures who nurture families better than most humans do can be labelled “humane” but please don’t be fooled into a sense of complacency that somehow we humans are doing the bears some sort of favor. This is one more pathetic example of barbaric human behavior. ‘Confidential’ describes an accurate state of the problem…sprawl and over development which has shrunk the habitat of all wild animals and caused more human encounters. Do you think the bears are happy to have to live with us? I doubt it. The folks who want to allow this murder are pandering to a small and politically well connected group of narcissists who enjoy the thrill of the kill and dare to call it sport. Their rush from this blood sport makes up for something lacking in their own DNA. I support the right to arm bears!

  4. Kevin says:

    And one more amazing irony I meant to mention, while at the same time that the natural habitat for bears and other wildlife is shrinking, we have the brilliant elected officials who have usurped the will of the voters to misinterpret the need to conserve the limited remaining acres of undeveloped land to protect wildlife, preserve ecological diversity while at the same time providing humans places to recreate, meditate and heal from the daily onslaught of our frenetic pace of life. The same natural habitat that sustains the bears also provides us the oxygen we need to survive and provides a watershed to filter and contain our water resources. The voters passed the referendum calling for monies to be used to conserve and protect more lands yet some politicians (who represent special interests and not their constituents) say we have enough land already protected. Obviously the bears are telling us otherwise.
    “Suburbia”: A place where they cut down all the trees and name the streets after them.
    “Earth First”: We’ll screw up the other planets later.

  5. Groot says:

    300-500 statewide does not warrant an open season on them. Just shoot the problem bears. They are not good eating anyway. Eat a raccoon! Lots of those and closely related.

  6. YankeeExPat says:

    In every case of Florida’s Bear/Human residential conflict, the root cause has always been some stupid Boob that is feeding the Bears. 9 time out of 10 it is the same scenario with problematic alligators.

  7. ItsTheFactsJack says:

    Was a donor to the Fish and Wildlife, not anymore. For those who call me a tree huggers i am proud of the title. Someone has to protect this planet from all the destruction we humans contain to bring upon! I do not mind hunting to eat but not for sport or to control the population. I believe we are the problem and we are the ones over populated. In NJ the bears were close to extinction so the genius decided to reintroduce the population without first trying to figure out how to control it. Well same scenario. They also created these safe zones for the bear, like if they knew how to read. If the bear was out of their safe zone, their solution, exterminate. How about relocate to the safe zone.

  8. Jennifer Vickery says:

    This is completely unnecessary and NOT humane whatsoever. Please help in reaching out to Rick Scott and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Committee and let them know your thoughts. THIS is the only way.

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