‘That Are On Crack’: A Florida representative is pushing a bill to legalize shooting bears

The legislation concerning the shooting of bears in Florida, which has been widely discussed and somewhat sensationalized, actually centers around a serious and growing concern for residents’ safety due to increasing bear-human interactions. The bill, referenced in various reports, would allow Florida residents to kill bears on their property without a permit under specific circumstances, aiming to protect individuals and their property from potential bear threats.

This legislation comes in response to a significant rise in bear-related calls to the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC), illustrating an uptick in bear-human encounters. From 2003 to 2022, the volume of bear-related calls increased from 1,104 to 5,907, marking a 435% increase over nearly two decades​​.

The proposed bill, backed by Republican state congressman Jason Shoaf and Senator Corey Simon, is intended as a self-defense measure, allowing the killing of bears on private property if the residents feel threatened or deem it necessary for protection​​​​.

Significantly, the bill stipulates that homeowners must notify the FWC within 24 hours of killing a bear and prohibits the possession or selling of bear carcasses. Additionally, it does not apply to scenarios where individuals provoke the bears into action​​. This legislative move has sparked a debate between ensuring human safety and the potential for misuse, with some conservation advocates fearing it could lead to unnecessary bear killings under the guise of self-defense​​.

While the bill is described by proponents as a necessary step for public safety, it has faced criticism from those who believe it could endanger bear populations and disrupt the natural balance. Critics argue for alternative solutions, such as improving trash management and public education to minimize bear-human interactions without resorting to lethal measures​​.

The controversy surrounding this legislation highlights the complex challenges of managing wildlife interactions in growing residential areas, balancing the safety of residents with conservation efforts and the protection of wildlife. As this bill progresses through the legislative process, its implications for Florida’s residents and bear population continue to be a topic of significant public interest and debate.