They stick up for the bears now, but when they attempt to eat their little dogs I’m sure the ‘tree huggers’ will be singing a different tune.
Florida’s first bear hunt in two decades opens on Saturday, joining other states that have loosened restrictions on hunting large predators, to the dismay of animal rights activists who see them as “trophy hunts.”
The hunt, which will span up to one week and allow up to 320 black bears to be killed, aims to stabilize a population that has rebounded to more than 3,000 from several hundred in the 1970s, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Hunting enthusiasts have defended such hunts in Florida and elsewhere as necessary to manage expanding numbers of bears and other large animals that threaten humans, while animal rights activists have decried the trend as cruel and ineffective.
“There has been a need to make seasons longer, make them more liberal, because there have been so many predators and they’re not as controlled as they should be,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president and chief executive officer of the Sportsmen’s Alliance.
The hunt comes at a time when several western states are considering regulations that would make it easier to hunt cougars. The big cats, with an historical range that stretched from coast to coast, have staged a comeback in recent years in some parts of the country.
Policies recently enacted or are under review in New Mexico, Oregon and Utah could result in the killing of more cougars, also known as mountain lions or panthers.
“The trend is ‘let’s open a trophy hunt,’” said Tracy Coppola, director of the wildlife abuse campaign at the Humane Society of the United States, referring to decisions largely being made by state wildlife managers. “It’s a very wrong management technique.”
In Florida, hunt opponents held statewide protests on Friday, aiming to build on the international outrage generated this summer by the killing of Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, by an American dentist who was on an African hunting trip.
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