Florida animal welfare activists are calling Gov. Rick Scott to appoint a non-hunter to a vacancy on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
On Wednesday, the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) ran an advertisement in the Tallahassee Democrat urging Scott to appoint either a nature photographer, a bird-watcher, or an individual with a background in wildlife conservation to the FWC.
A similar ad ran in Sunday and Monday’s papers, and also run Thursday as well, the final day of an FWC meeting in the town of Havana, north of Tallahassee.
The ad is also available at www.download.arff.org/FWC-advertisement.pdf.
Featuring an image of a black bear, the ad has a headline, “Florida’s wildlife belongs to all Floridians.” At this week’s meeting, the FWC will once again discuss bear management. In 2015, the FWC approved a black bear hunt despite strong public opposition. It was the first bear hunting season in Florida in 21 years.
“It is time that the FWC has a Commissioner who represents nature photographers, birders, hikers and other ‘nonconsumptive’ users of Florida’s fish and wildlife,” said Don Anthony, ARFF’s Communications Director. “Most residents of Florida are not hunters, yet the FWC has long been dominated by individuals with a hunting background.”
Nature photography, along with bird-watching, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking are the fastest-growing outdoor activities in America.
According to the FWC’s own numbers, “wildlife viewing” has a much greater economic impact in Florida than hunting.
ARFF believes the appointment of a photographer, birder, or wildlife advocate would add an important perspective to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.