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Volusia County Wants Out Of the Next Bear Hunt

| May 5, 2016

florida black bears

A Florida black bear eyes moving to Volusia County. (FWC)

If the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission decides to hold another bear hunt later this year, Volusia County officials don’t want any part of it.

The Volusia County Council on Thursday unanimously approved a “symbolic” resolution urging the commission to reinstate a prohibition on hunting Florida black bears.

Council member Josh Wagner, who has purchased lifetime hunting licenses for himself and his two children, said the hunt goes against efforts and money spent to establish bear corridors and bear-management education programs.

“There is nothing greater than being out in the wild with your kids and teaching them about guns and teaching them about safety and the importance of wildlife,” Wagner said. “At the same time, some things don’t need to be hunted.”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission last year lifted a ban on bear hunting that had been in place for decades and held a brief — but controversial — season in October.

If the commission doesn’t want to reenact the ban, Kelli McGee, Volusia County’s director of growth and resource management, said the resolution also asks that the hunt not be held in the bear-management area that includes Volusia County.

“If they won’t restrict hunting statewide, perhaps they would restrict hunting in our area,” McGee said.

Volusia County is part of the Central bear management region, which includes the St. Johns River watershed and the Ocala National Forest.

Fish and Wildlife Commission spokesman Tammy Sapp said Thursday in an email that the agency has been working with Volusia County to reduce the possibility of human-bear conflicts.

“We respect the county’s efforts to address the challenges associated with black bears,” Sapp said.

The state commission is expected during a meeting June 22 and June 23 in Apalachicola to discuss the possibility of holding another bear hunt.

Bear-hunt opponents are working with Seminole County on a similar resolution to the one approved in Volusia.

Jackie Lewis, a Deland resident who helped hunt opponents monitor the 2015 hunt, told the county council that educational efforts to reduce human-bear conflicts are more effective than hunts.

“This is just as much an issue of justice and democracy as it is of environmental stewardship,” said Lewis. “Poll after poll showed that the majority of Floridians, 75 percent, were opposed to this hunt.”

The 2015 hunt lasted two days and included the killing of 304 bears, with 21 in Volusia County.

The commission estimates the state has 4,350 adult bears, with 1,230 in the Central region, which includes all or parts of Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia counties. The region’s estimated bear population has grown nearly 20 percent since 2002.

Volusia County has also accounted for 14 percent of the 25,728 calls received by the commission regarding human-bear conflicts from 2012 through 2015.

This year, Florida lawmakers included $500,000 to reduce human-bear conflicts in the state’s $82 billion budget. The money is earmarked to match local dollars in purchasing bear-resistant garbage containers.

Sapp said the state agency is working with 14 counties that have the most incidents of human-bear conflicts, including Volusia, on ordinances needed to receive the state money.

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11 Responses for “Volusia County Wants Out Of the Next Bear Hunt”

  1. anonymous says:

    I don’t think the black bears should be killed. These woods that are being torn down was there home.

  2. Tired of it says:

    I can’t wait till the bears start tearing stuff up and scaring the heck out of people walking their dogs in Volusia County. Then they will be calling for the State to take immediate action to get rid of the bears. If they like bears so much maybe the state could start relocating the bears to Volusia County. When you have to many of a species in an area without enough food you will have problems. Bears will scavenge food from wherever they can get it. Let the experts at the State make the determination on the hunting of the bears not some politicians bowing down to the bear lovers.

  3. confidential says:

    I applaud Volusia County Commission for the leadership opposing the hunters on the FWCC plans for a second bear slaughter. FCBOCC please do the same and oppose the second bear hunt. Otherwise we should welcome our number one industry (tourism) visitors with slogan like :”Welcome to Florida were we kill the bears that may inconvenience your stay” or maybe ” Welcome to Florida the land of gorgeous beaches and bear slaughters” or ” Welcome to Florida were we kill bears for revenue and not for food”
    Its time we have some respect for the one’s that were here first on a land that welcomed us all. What is with people moving allover the USA including Florida country side before ;earning how to deal with the wildlife that inhabit those former sanctuaries? I do not go around killing snakes, squirrels, raccoons, deer , bears or birds of prey around my home because they inconvenience me or are a danger to my domestic pets. I just deal with them and be more alert and careful of mine and my pets surroundings and I do not leave garbage around to attract wildlife. Our country men and women are raising to protect our wildlife all around this country and we should protect our bears in Florida as well. We should follow the great examples:
    Also while settling in bear land we need to learn how to live with bears and not file complaints or risk to bear attack that is always fatal for the bear:

  4. Bc. says:

    Leave the Bears alone and people stop putting trash out in open cans that they can get into.

  5. Geezer says:

    Florida is becoming a concrete jungle with inconvenient deer and bear populations.
    See Yogi and Gentle Ben? Shoot ’em in the lungs! Make ashtrays out of their paws
    and mail their private parts to Asia so that men can be more virile!
    Ancient secret!

    Winnie the Pooh: your ass is grass!

  6. Joe says:

    Over population is no reason to kill a species, we don’t even kill spiders when they are in the house, we just catch them and release them back outside. So why in the world would people kill bears.

  7. Retired law enforcement says:

    That’s all well and good, untill a bear mauls a person or pet then the same people will be cryin ‘ why didn’t the government do something”?

  8. Sherry says:

    OK. . . so hating humans isn’t enough. . . now we should spread that hate to the animal kingdom!

    Let’s stun and relocate the “innocent” bears. . . and also remove their food source by using bear proof garbage containers in the appropriate places.

    How soon we forget how the reckless last hunters irresponsibly killed mother bears! We are very lucky no humans got in their way! PEACE!

  9. confidential says:

    We the people need to learn how to live with the creatures that were roaming free in those sanctuaries and their food sources that we took away from them to build our homes!

  10. Annomymous says:

    I agree they shouldn’t be killed

  11. Wings2C says:

    These are excellent and valid comments! I will add, protection of the GOD’S (not ours) wildlife and their habitat is our responsibility as advocates of those who can’t speak for themselves. It should be a honor and privilege to do so.

    Per Confidential 5/7/16 “We the people need to learn how to live with the creatures that were roaming free in those sanctuaries and their food sources that we took away from them to build our homes! “ABSOLUTELY!! If you don’t want to encounter wildlife…DON’T move into THEIR territories and/or destroy it. It was created for them first. It is not our right.

    Just to remind you, humans are NOT at the top of the food chain.

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