Media Advisory, September 30, 2015
Leon County Court Hearing Will Decide Fate of Florida Black Bear
What: The Circuit Court for the Second Judicial Circuit will hear arguments on whether it should temporarily halt the Florida black bear hunt pending resolution of the case.
When: Thursday, Oct. 1, at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Judge George Reynolds III’s courtroom, Leon County Circuit Courthouse, 301 South Monroe Street, Tallahassee, Florida
Who: Plaintiffs, Speak Up Wekiva and Charles O’Neal, represented by Ralf Brooks; and Amici, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Hero Kids, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity, CompassionWorks International, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, Lobby for Animals, Stop The Florida Bear Hunt and South Florida Wildlands, represented by Justine Cowan and Jaclyn Lopez.
Chuck O’Neal and attorneys Brooks and Lopez will be available for comment following the hearing.
Despite overwhelming public opposition, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has authorized the killing of 320 Florida black bears — an estimated 20 percent of the population — starting Oct. 24. Plaintiffs are calling for the cancellation of the hunt, which would cause irreparable harm to an already fragile species and undermine decades of work to save the Florida black bear from extinction. The commission received more than 191,000 comments about the hunt — with more than 98 percent opposed.
It is estimated that there are only 2,500 to 3,000 Florida black bears left, yet the commission has already sold more than 2,200 permits to kill bears during the October hunt. Furthermore, the commission’s own rules guarantee at least a two-day hunt, regardless of when the quota is met. Because of this and the fact that the commission has not established a reliable reporting mechanism, its “quota” of 320 bears is a meaningless safeguard against overharvest. For a population facing intensifying threats such as habitat degradation and mortality due to collisions with motor vehicles, this hunt could be devastating.
Plaintiffs are asking the court to temporarily enjoin the hunt until the court can hear the case on the merits.