News Releases

Workshops on bear management plan postponed

News Release

Monday, October 11, 2010

Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) announced Monday that workshops scheduled around the state on the Florida black bear management plan have been postponed until further notice. This postponement includes meetings scheduled for Naples on Tuesday, Oct 12 and Perry on Oct. 19. The FWC made the announcement after senior leadership members were unable to attend the workshops because of scheduling conflicts.

"We have held three public meetings on the plan so far this fall," said Tim Breault, director of the FWC's Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. "Although there is significant interest from a wide range of perspectives, each of the workshops ended in debates on hunting rather than on discussions of the plan itself."

The FWC intended for the workshops to focus on the draft plan that proposes a framework for ensuring a sustainable and socially acceptable Florida black bear population throughout the state.

"This includes conserving appropriate amounts of bear habitat, stabilizing the level of complaints about bears, and securing adequate funding to implement the plan," Breault said. "Hunting is not proposed in this plan."

However, articles in the media, comments on the FWC's bear management plan website, and letters sent to the Commission are focused on the issue of reintroducing the hunting of black bears in Florida rather than providing the FWC with comments on the plan.

Staff will determine how they can bring the focus of the discussion back to the management plan in order to move forward in developing a final plan that will effectively conserve and manage the species.

"Given the high level of public interest, we need to make sure that we reschedule the workshops to a date and time when senior leadership will be able to attend," Breault said.  "Listening to public feedback is essential to making this plan effective."

The Florida black bear is a state-threatened species whose populations are expanding in some areas but are still quite restricted in others. Because of this variability, the plan proposes to create several bear management units, which will consider specific challenges and characteristics of the different geographical locations.

The draft plan is available online for public review and comments at http://share2.MyFWC.com/BearMP/default.aspx. For more information on Florida black bears, go to MyFWC.com/Bear.



FWC Facts:
To receive a no-cost Resident Disabled Person's Hunting and Fishing License, applicants must provide proof of being totally and permanently disabled.

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