Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: No more Florida bear hunts

Almost two years after Florida allowed its first bear hunt in a generation, the controversial topic is back on the agenda of wildlife managers. This time, thankfully, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff is not recommending holding another bear hunt, and commissioners should follow that lead when they consider the issue Wednesday. After the 2015 hunt resulted in the senseless killing of more than 300 Florida black bears despite enormous public opposition and questionable science, there is no more reason now than there was then to allow open season on these animals.

As recently as 2012, bears were listed as an imperiled species in Florida. But as attacks and other unwelcome contact with humans steadily rose, the focus of the threat shifted. When a hunt was proposed in 2015, officials suggested it as a way to cut down on car crashes and nuisance bears bothering homeowners and damaging property. That never made sense, since the hunt was to take place deep in the woods, not on the edges of new suburbs that are pushing ever closer to bear habitat.

Public officials across the state passed resolutions opposing a hunt and scientists warned of threats to the bear population, whose actual numbers were not known. Hundreds of residents turned out at Fish and Wildlife hearings imploring the state to halt the plan. None of it mattered. The commission charged ahead and approved a weeklong hunt for October 2015. Depending on your point of view, the hunt was either a travesty or a huge success. So many bears were killed so quickly that officials shut it down after just two days. Among the take were 36 lactating females, meaning scores of cubs were left orphaned. The whole spectacle was a disgrace from which the state got a welcome reprieve in 2016 when the commission voted unexpectedly not to hold another hunt.

Also last year, a state count brought encouraging news: In 14 years, the adult Florida black bear population grew by 60 percent to 4,350, in addition to an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 cubs wandering the woods, state bear experts said. That was the result of a focused effort to help add to the bears' numbers. About 40 years ago, Florida had about 300 bears left. The state banned hunting in all but three counties in 1974, then banned it statewide in 1994. By 2002, state biologists estimated the population at about 3,000. The hunting ban and other efforts at protection worked.

The Florida black bear's comeback is a wildlife management victory that should be celebrated, not perverted by another unjustified hunt.

Meanwhile, as the bear count has grown, so have the threats. More people are moving to Florida all the time, spurring more development that continues to encroach on bear habitat. Shortsighted decisions now could send the bear population right back to perilous levels. Concerns about the animals' contact with people should be addressed in other ways, namely through habitat protection but also sensible precautions like bear-proof lids on garbage cans. Those and other solutions should be the focus this week when the state wildlife commission meets in Tallahassee.

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Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18