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For about a year, Selover and his neighbors shared their community with about eight black bears. The bears and their young cubs moved in after undeveloped land next to their homes was cleared for a new development. It was almost comical, Selover says. The bears would walk around the streets in broad daylight or hang out in trees near his home. Some of his neighbors would even bring their kids to the grassy area where the bears played, like it was a zoo.
But as the bears began getting bigger, Selover’s anxiety grew and he began calling FWC. One bear attacked a dog, which had to be put down, and then another bear attacked a dog and its owner in the next community over. That’s when FWC finally killed and removed the bears, though Selover did see the occasional bear after that.
“We were thinking about moving downtown to get away from it,” Selover says. “To walk her dog, my wife had to drive two miles away. To me, it was no different than a lion, a jaguar or a tiger just roaming the streets, on the loose. No one seemed to be willing to do anything until someone got hurt.”
Recently, the National Rifle Association and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida came out in support of the bear hunt and asked the FWC in a letter to expand it, saying, “Bears continue to terrorize homeowners and prevent families from allowing children to play outside in some areas.”
Selover says the NRA’s letter is just an attempt to sell more of their product and that the bear hunt is a “typical bureaucratic solution” that doesn’t address the human-bear contact problem.
“I feel like they were trying to placate people like me, but ended up disgusting everyone,” he says. “They should spend some time developing places to relocate these bears and plan to only kill as a last resort. But I also found it frustrating when people objected to bears being harmed at all, which is easy to say when you don’t have eight of them in your backyard. Overall, I didn’t hear anyone saying something that sounded realistic to me. ‘Don’t leave your trashcan out,’ is not helpful advice.”