Ten-year-old girl passionately urges Hillsborough County commissioners to take stand against Florida bear hunt
TAMPA — From the moment she unpacked her pink footstool and stepped up to the lectern Wednesday, 10-year-old Megan Sorbo had the attention of Hillsborough County commissioners.
Then she started to talk. And the whole room perked up.
Speaking with a force and clarity beyond her years, Sorbo passionately implored commissioners to take a stand against Florida’s controversial black bear hunt. She punched the air with her tiny fist for emphasis and peppered commissioners with tough, rhetorical questions.
“Can you imagine having the size of your home and yard reduced by over 80 percent and then having people wanting to come into your now-small home to hunt you while you were doing nothing wrong?” Sorbo, from Orlando, asked. “That is what has happened to our bears.”
“We must work to protect, not kill our bears that are still left in Florida,” she added.
When she finished, the room broke out in applause. Commissioners, too, were moved.
“You tackled a tough issue and you did it very well and you are to be commended,” Commissioner Les Miller said. “A lot of older folks don’t get involved in the process and you at the age of 10 are already involved in the process. Please keep it up. It’s an important issue to you and it’s an important issue to the state.”
Asked by Commissioner Sandy Murman what motivated her enthusiasm for the issue, Sorbo said it stemmed from her love of the Everglades.
“When my mom first brought me there I just fell in love with it and then I fell in love with everything that lived there,” she said. “When I saw one (black bear), I knew we couldn’t hunt them.”
Murman was sold.
“We need to capture this and film it and send it to our legislators in Tallahassee and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission,” Murman said.
Several other speakers, including Sorbo’s older brother Trevor Sorbo, also asked commissioners to send a message to state officials and pass a resolution against the bear hunt. Commissioners ultimately took no action this week.
Hunters killed nearly 300 bears during the state’s October black bear hunt, the first in two decades. Scheduled to last a week, officials had to cut the hunt down to just two days because the 320-bear cap was nearly reached.
Sorbo has taken on other conservation issues on her blog, MeganForWildFlorida.com, including fracking and manatee protections. For her birthday, she is asking for donations to support a billboard to advertise against the bear hunt. She is hoping to raise $5,000.
“You’re adorable,” Murman said. “And your information is compelling.”