The overarching mandate of Game & Fish departments is to manage species populations. This means ensuring proper habitat, managing disease and controlling populations. The nation is full of success stories. In fact, I am pretty sure it is still true, but last I knew, there wasn’t a species of (huntable) game animal in the U.S. that couldn’t boast numbers well over the population a century ago.
The reason is solid game management. This entails curtailing hunting on species or in areas where populations decline. It also means ensuring the habitat and food sources in a given area will support the local population. Public lands, game preserves, conservation organizations, and hunters all play a vital role in proper game management.
Floridians have experienced more than a few problems related to black bears over the years. The population of black bears has surged over the last decade, but black bears in Florida have no natural enemies. Unfortunately, many bears have lost the fear of man as well.
Recently, it looked as though a season would not happen when Speak Up Wekiva filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed black bear hunting season. The group boasts being an environmental protection group. Its website’s navigation shows nothing more than stopping black bear hunting though.
Fortunately, for hunters, Safari Club International (SCI) came to the rescue as the only hunting group to assist the State of Florida in protecting the state’s black bear season against the challenge from the anti-hunters.
On Thursday, October 1, 2015, after a five-hour hearing, a Florida state court denied a request filed by Speak Up Wekiva to shut down Florida’s first black bear hunt in decades. As a result of the ruling, the hunt is set to commence as planned on October 24th. Deserving most of the credit for the victory is Florida’s state attorneys and biologists, who aggressively defended the hunt in court.
SCI assisted in defending the hunt by submitting a powerful amicus brief that explained to the court how stopping the hunt would harm SCI members and the general Florida hunting community. SCI’s brief also provided concrete data from SCI’s past involvement with black bear litigation in New Jersey. The data refuted the Plaintiffs’ claims that the hunt would harm Florida’s black bear population. An SCI attorney appeared at the hearing to offer assistance as needed. SCI’s local counsel in Florida, attorney Ethan Way—a member of SCI’s Tallahassee Chapter—assisted SCI’s in-house litigation attorneys in filing the brief and appearing in court.
SCI is proud to be a part of this latest victory and hunters should be proud of SCI. SCI has a long history of conserving Florida black bears through sustainable use. Almost 10 years ago, SCI helped the federal government defend a lawsuit seeking to force a listing of the Florida black bear under the Endangered Species Act, which would have prevented Florida’s current hunt. If anti-hunting groups decide to continue to try to stop the hunt, SCI will continue to help Florida defend against any challenge.
Much like the assault on the Second Amendment, there is an effort by the antis to strip Americans of their right to sustainable resources.
Perhaps you are not a hunter, but do you support hunters’ rights? Share your perspectives or opinions on SCI’s victory to open managed bear hunting in Florida in the comment section.