Florida residents who feel that they or their properties are threatened may kill bears without first obtaining a permit. The proposal forbids luring bears onto private property in order to kill them.
Filed on Nov. 29 by State Sen. Corey Simon (R-Tallahassee), SB 632, the Self Defense Act, would allow Florida homeowners to use lethal force against a bear on their own properties if they feel threatened and believe that using that force is necessary to protect themselves or their properties. A twin bill, House Bill 87, was filed in the Florida House of Representatives.
Under the proposed measure, people must notify the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission within 24 hours of killing a bear and those who do are forbidden from keeping, disposing of, or selling the bear or its parts.
According to Katrina R. Shadix, executive director of Bear Warriors United, a non-profit organization that advocates for the protection of bears and other Florida wildlife, there are 4,050 bears located in the state, whose human population is 22 million. Loss of habitat to development, over crowded roads and poaching threaten the animals’ long-term survival, she said.
Passage of the measures would have multiple consequences, Shadix said. “If the bear killing bills are passed into law, the rate of speed at which the bears are barreling toward extinction will be exponentially increased,” Shadix said. “If passed, the bear killing bills will greatly contribute to poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking, making it even easier than it is now for Floridians to sell bear body parts on the Asian black market.”
If passed and signed into law, SB 632 would become effective on July 1. The next regular session of the Florida Legislature begins on Jan. 9, 2024.