Man accuses FWC of giving back illegal bear killed during bear hunt

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Photos by Thomas Ninesevenx Allison

Florida — Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials said they will have to make some adjustments before the next bear hunt.

This past weekend, Florida had its first bear hunt in 21 years, and it had to be shut down early because FWC underestimated the success of the hunt.

According to officials, 3,778 bear-hunt permits were issued and the quota was for 320 bears.

Officials ended the hunt Sunday night with after 298 bears were reported to have been killed.

Tammy Sapp, Communications Manager with the Division of Hunting and Game Management said, “FWC had mechanisms in place for daily monitoring of the harvest and season closure, so when the harvest approached the statewide objective of 320, FWC was prepared and stopped the hunt.” She added, “The East Panhandle and the Central bear management units (BMUs) were closed for the rest of the season beginning Sunday, Oct. 25 while the North and South BMUs were closed to hunting beginning Monday, Oct. 26.”

The total harvest for the four bear managements units open during the 2015 bear hunt was 298. The breakdown by Bear Management Unit is as follows:

  • East Panhandle BMU = 112 bears
  • Central BMU = 139 bears
  • North BMU = 25 bears
  • South BMU = 22 bears

According to FWC, while harvest was higher than expected in the East Panhandle and Central BMUs, success rates were comparable to other states with similar hunt structures and were within sustainable limits. The higher-than-expected harvest in the East Panhandle likely reflects a higher bear population in that unit and indicates that the population is significantly higher than the East Panhandle’s 2002 population estimate of 600 bears.

However, the hunt did not come without problems.

The FWC law enforcement division continues to investigate cases concerning violations that occurred during the recent bear hunt.

At least one of those cases under investigation concerns a hunter taking or attempting to take a bear by baiting it in the Central BMU.

One individual in the Central BMU was cited for taking or attempting to take a bear by baiting it.

During the bear hunt, one criminal citation was issued in the Northwest Panhandle BMU for killing a cub bear that weighed 42 pounds.  Another hunter in the Central BMU was issued a warning for taking an 88 pound bear. In addition, FWC officers addressed hunters without permits and are investigating any out-of-season harvests. Overall, FWC says that hunter ethics and compliance during the bear hunt were high.

Many have turned to social media to express their outrage after hunters were allegedly heard bragging that the bears killed did not attempt to run.

Experts said the bears did not run because they are not used to being prey.

FWC Public Information Officer Greg Workman said that they are also aware of a Facebook post written by a man who claims that an FWC officer returned an undersized bear to a hunter after he was cited.

Thomas Ninesevenx Allison wrote, “This underweight bear (91.8pounds – 5 lbs for the net) was killed by the man driving this vehicle… with this license number. The bear was then confiscated by this FWC LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER, whose name is Mike Fletcher. Officer Fletcher then drove up the road and had the hunter who illegally killed the bear follow him. I got curious and drove after them and found the FWC LAW ENFORCEMENT officer on the side of the road returning the bear to the hunter who illegally shot it.”

Allison also posted several photos of the underweight bear.

Workman said, “This particular issue has come up numerous times in the past few days. I can assure you the hunter did not have the bear returned to him. The officers merely drove down the road so they could perform their duty of writing up the appropriate paperwork on the hunter. The bear wasn’t given back, but confiscated.”

Officials said that the person who posted the information has also encouraged people to share it. Officials warn that the information is completely false and nothing more than propaganda in an attempt to halt future bear hunts.

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  • nohilderbeast2016

    if they got that many bears in two days…..there is a definite bear problem….

    • Huskyrider

      Wrong.

    • wendi

      no, the people who leave garbage out in the open are the problem! The bears were born in the areas where thoughtless developers put in sub-divisions, strip malls, etc. etc. etc.but it’s not JUST the developers we should blame, it’s also US who ask for it! no DEMAND it! Most people love the quiet forest areas where no traffic keeps you awake, there are lakes to fish in, swim. etc. If they ‘love it’ then they should respect it and the animals who live there.!

  • Laura O’Hara

    I’m sure the FWC is as crooked as their leader, Rick Scott.

  • Green Bean

    No, they didn’t get so many bears in two days because there is a bear problem. They got so many bears because those animals are not used to being hunted and are acclimated to people pointing cameras at them. The other problem is that Florida keeps encroaching on the habitat of these animals and allowing people to pick the berries that they eat. What happened here is a travesty! One hunter bragged about having to pry the cubs off of the mama bear he shot so that he could load her body into the truck. Classy.

    • Stop lying

      And those against the hunt will continue to spread outright lies in the hopes of having the next hunt stopped. Anyone that has spent time in the national forest knows that tje bear population has exploded.

      • Huskyrider

        Green bean isn’t lying…I live in and play in the Ocala National Forest. No I don’t see bears very often, but when I do it’s in areas close to homes where the bears ARE in fact used to being near people who are in THEIR habitat. The bears are very accustomed to ignorant residents refusing to follow protocol. They get into improperly handled garbage. They get out right FED regularly. They are used to cameras on them (“because it’s sooooo cute”)..idiot people. These things all result in death for the bear and TOTALLY easy pickins for hunters.

        Bears that are a problem should be humanly euthanized (and i want to say….along with whatever idiot human created the problem – but I won’t say it :0)).

        Trusting hunters to kill responsibly is not the answer. Because they don’t. Bears are left to suffer injured, baiting is used without the knowledge of those charged with control and policing. Under weight bears are taken, bears taken without permits and so on. It’s a huge can of worms opened — and the bears suffer for it.

        Because people will continue being ignorant, bears will continue to struggle for a peaceful existence.

    • wendi

      This was my worst nightmare ! but I never thought that local ‘hunters’ were so cruel!
      It’s one thing to cull the bears if necessary, or if they are a nuisance, but in those cases Wildlife officials obviously would not let the cubs starve, they would put them in a zoo or something, but Florida doesn’t want to be known as a ‘backwoods RedNeck state’ ! This is after all a National Forest!

  • Ramoana Stone

    They didn’t address the 5 cub kills I have photos of and sent to them, except for one – only the 42lb cub killer was fined. FWC are liars.

  • Joan

    The first thing to remember is the FWC is not headed up by legitimate wildlife managers. They do not have the expertise or legitimacy to do so. All are appointed by the Governor and are beholden to him for their job. Is Rick Scott an environmentalist and sensitive to and concerned about maintaining the integrity of natural Florida and preserving wildlife? The answer is unequivocally NO. The FWC commissioners lie just as much as their boss does. This bear hunt was not about reducing so-called nuisance bears and the rare bear-human contact. Every wildlife biologist worth their salt has said that hunting does nothing to reduce nuisance bears. Educating people who live in bear country and the use of bear proof garbage cans does reduce these issues by a wide margin and has been very effective in other states. This bear hunt was so poorly managed that every one of the commissioners at FWC should resign or be fired. They are a bunch with zilch experience in the management of wildlife and/or have serious and blatant conflicts of interest (go to the FWC website and read their bios). The rest of the country and the world has seen this black bear hunt for what it was, an unethical killing and a tragedy that was completely unnecessary. For the FWC to say that the reason for the large number of bears killed in two days points to there being lots more bears than was estimated is ludicrous and sinister and coming from an agency that has proven itself to be completely incompetent. Some of the obvious reasons for the numbers killed are bears that had no fear of humans, many reports of baited bears (all hunters are not ethical) and the fact that nearly 3,800 permits were sold to ostensibly take 320 bears. How’s that for incompetence?

  • crystal

    The majority of bears were killed on private property (75%) where they had become used to being fed. They had no fear of people and it was a blood bath not “hunting.” The land owners made money, the state made money and the bears were openly slaughtered. This did nothing to control the number of incidents in any area since in some areas bear were killed in numbers that may make it impossible to recover. FWC issued “warnings” even for people baiting bears and hunting without a license. FWC does NOT issue financial penalties substantial enough to curtail illegal activities.