FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Animal advocates gathered over 28 cities in Florida, Saturday, to protest an annual black bear hunt proposed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Groups united in front of the Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers, to spread their message. "Bears were just taken off the endangered species list in 2012, so just three years later they already sanctioned a hunt. 304 bears were killed," said protest organizer, Jeanne Jain.
Jain told Fox 4 last year's hunt was stopped after the first two days because bear management units were quickly exceeding their quotas. The FWC uses the hunt as a way to control the bear population and reduce human/bear conflict. However, the advocates protesting said it isn't needed. "We don't think 4,350 bears is too many for the whole state of Florida," said Jain.
Some held signs that read "killing is not conservation. Jennifer Christiansen said th solution to reducing human/bear conflict is by changing human actions, like obtaining bear-proof trashcans and creating stiffer fines for people who feed the animals. "In my opinion, instead of a hunt, we need to use more responsible developments and make sure we save some of the primary habitat for our bears and also our panthers," she said. "We build our houses right in their habitat and then we're surprised when they come looking for food," added another protester.
The FWC was expected to announce it's decision at it's March meeting in Jupiter, but they pushed it back to their June meeting, which will take place on June 22nd in Apalachicola.