For Immediate Release, July 31, 2015
Conservation Groups Call on Florida Wildlife Commission to Stop Florida Black Bear Hunt
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— Speak Up Wekiva, a Florida-based nonprofit conservation organization, filed a complaint against the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission today for violating the Florida state constitution. Groups including Sierra Club, Environmental Action, League of Women Voters and the Center for Biological Diversity are calling on the Commission to suspend the sale of black bear hunting permits, slated to commence Monday, Aug. 3, until court proceedings conclude.
Amendment 5, which was promulgated in 1998, stipulates that it shall be the policy of the state to make adequate provisions for the conservation and protection of natural resources. The recent decision by FWC to lift the 20-year hunting ban of Florida black bears is not only inconsistent with the language of Amendment 5, but also the intent of the framers and 73 percent of Floridian voters who overwhelmingly supported the amendment.
“The LWV of Florida has a position that the proposed FWC black bear hunt should not move forward until all the data from the census has been properly gathered and scientifically analyzed,” said Pamela Goodman, president of League of Woman Voters of Florida. “We understand that now a legal challenge has been filed to address these concerns. We call upon the FWC to suspend the sale of black bear hunting permits due to begin on August 3rd until these legal issues have been resolved.”
Said Anthony Rogers-Wright, policy and organizing director of Environmental Action: “While unfortunate that it’s become necessary to turn to the courts to preserve Florida Black Bears, this complaint is the result of a runaway commission that refuses to listen to 75 percent of Floridians who expressed opposition to this hunt, an incomplete scientific process bereft of integrity and no perception of objectivity as some members of FWC are self-described hunters. At this point, the right thing to do is suspend the sale of hunting permits until this issue has its full day in court, and I hope the commissioners see it this way as well.”
“Fish and Wildlife commissioners are acting against the interests of Floridians, science and Florida black bears,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s not too late to hit the brakes on this ill-conceived plan.”
“We welcome today’s lawsuit challenging the Wildlife Commission’s unconstitutional, unnecessary, and immoral black bear hunt,” said Sierra Club’s Florida Staff Director, Frank Jackalone. “The Commission must suspend the hunt immediately and work with scientists to protect Florida's black bears, not kill them.”
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.