Photo by Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission via Flickr
Circuit Judge George Reynolds will not stop
Florida’s first black bear hunt in more than 20 years.
Environmental groups, including members of Speak Up Wekiva, traveled to Tallahassee today to testify in an emergency hearing asking the court to stop the hunt. But the judge ruled that the hunt can take place as scheduled. Speak Up Wekiva sued the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission earlier this year over its controversial decision to allow a one-week bear season to take place this year – it's the first time in decades that Florida has allowed people to hunt black bears, which were once so critically endangered that they were considered a threatened species in the state. Speak Up Wekiva's suit states that in opening up bear season, the FWC is abdicating its constitutionally mandated mission to preserve the state's natural resources.
Reynolds denied a petition from Speak Up Wekiva for a temporary injunction against the hunt today, saying the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission had made a successful scientific basis for the hunt, but said the FWC “could have had some better timing” by waiting until after a more recent population study was released.
Speak Up Wekiva says the FWC's proposal for the hunt will allow licensed hunters to kill an unlimited number of Florida black bears during the first two days of the week-long hunt, which starts Oct. 24 and ends Oct. 30. Because more than 2,000 licenses have been sold so far, the petition says, this would allow hunters to legally surpass the FWC's quota of 320 bears. The state has said it will closely monitor the hunt.
No word yet from Speak Up Wekiva on what its next move will be.