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By Nick Wiley
Several recent editorials present an incomplete picture of the science behind FWC’s comprehensive bear management program. We are highly confident in the cutting-edge, peer-reviewed scientific foundation supporting FWC staff recommendations regarding black bear management. The scientific methods we rely on have been proven repeatedly in bear populations across North America and further validated through substantial research in the Southeast and here in Florida. This robust body of science clearly supports that Florida’s comprehensive approach to bear management, which includes hunting, is effective and sustainable.
FWC invests considerable staff expertise in bear conservation programs and places great emphasis on using the best possible science. We employ 13 biological experts with more than 110 years of collective science and management experience directly focused on black bears. To verify that FWC is relying on sound science to guide our decision making, we recently invited the top bear scientists from across the nation to examine and review Florida’s bear management program. This expert panel, with over 170 years of combined experience directly involving bears, concluded that, “FWC is employing quality long-term data and scientific research to manage Florida’s black bears.” You can view their full supportive statement at MyFWC.com/bear.
After receiving extensive input from the public, FWC Commissioners will weigh FWC recommendations for a more conservative bear hunt with three other options, including postponing the bear hunt in 2016. You can learn more and provide input at MyFWC.com/bear.
Some reports have led people to believe that FWC has not done sound scientific research and makes hasty decisions about wildlife management. This could not be further from the truth. It is our responsibility to make recommendations based on the best available science, and that is exactly what we are doing.