The Florida Legislature is taking up a bill Tuesday that would create a “Self Defense Act” against bears, allowing a person to use lethal force if they feel “threatened” and believe “that using such force is necessary to protect himself or herself on his or her private property.”
Information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that is going to be presented to lawmakers from the House Agriculture, Conservation and Resiliency Subcommittee will discuss the history of the Florida black bear, and the species’ growing population since being taken off the threatened species list in 2012.
Although FWC says human-bear conflicts have risen across the state, “particularly in residential areas, where bears often search for food,” bear advocates say Florida House Bill 87 is not necessary.
“If you move into this area, you have to do your homework,” Seminole County resident Joe Humphreys told FOX 35 Orlando. “Do your due diligence.”
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Humphreys said he is a “staunch supporter” of the Second Amendment’s right to self-defense, but does not believe a similar law should apply to wild animals.
The proposed bill strictly states that people cannot lure or provoke a bear. Anyone who were to kill a bear also cannot keep it or sell it afterward; rather, they would have to turn it into FWC within 24 hours.
Earlier this month, a Florida black bear was caught on a home’s surveillance camera asserting its dominance over the home’s Christmas reindeer decor in Longwood in the middle of the night.
In November, a Florida black bear was caught on camera stealing a food delivery order of $45 worth of Taco Bell from a family’s front porch, also in Longwood.
FLORIDA BEAR CAUGHT ON CAMERA STEALING FOOD DELIVERY ORDER OFF FAMILY’S PORCH
In October, a bear set off a Lake County woman’s doorbell camera in the middle of the night, and she said it was not her first encounter with what she says is a family of bears.
“The mother bear dragged our deep freezer off of our porch and emptied it out in the yard. Like it’s big, huge, heavy, I couldn’t even stand it up by myself, but [she] dragged it out and emptied all the contents out all over the yard,” Elizabeth Martin told FOX 35.
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Those against HB 87 told the TV station they would rather see people use less lethal deterrents, like bear spray and securing their garbage.
The bill was co-introduced by representatives Dr. Joel Rudman and Michelle Salzman, who are both Republicans.
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.