Black Bear law causes concern among Floridians

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Elyssa Morataya
Published: Updated:

Black bears have often been seen across Southwest Florida, and now a new law that allows for the killing of a black bear under certain circumstances is raising concerns.

From black bears seen on front lawns, roaming the streets of Cape Coral, or, most recently, trying to dash across highways, they’re everywhere.

Because of this, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 87 – a state law allowing people to use lethal action against a bear if they feel their life or property is in immediate danger.

William Brabson thinks the new law could cause more harm to the shooters than the bear.

“If you aren’t a hunter, you don’t know how to kill a bear, and you shoot it, you lose. You’re in trouble,” said Brabson. “To the person we are talking about, that homeowner, that person hiking in the woods. Bullets don’t necessarily kill bears, but when wounded the bear will kill the person.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says black bears are generally not aggressive, but if threatened, they can become violent.

FWC provided WINK News with this statement on the law:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is committed to the safety of Floridians.

FWC statement

The Cape Coral Police Department also wants people to know that they shouldn’t approach the bears and to make sure they place pets and pet food that may attract bears inside, since bears can smell from a mile away.

The law is called the Self-Defense Act. The only way one can use lethal force is if they reasonably believe it is necessary, the person didn’t lure the bear with food and did not purposely or recklessly place themselves or their pet in a situation where lethal force was needed.

Supporters of the law believe it will protect people, but Brabson believes otherwise.

“Bears– their body their structure– you gotta know what you’re doing,” said Brabson.

If you do shoot a bear and live, you must notify FWC within a day, and the law prevents people from owning, selling or disposing of a bear.

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