Florida Senate passes bill allowing self-defense killing of black bears
American Black bear. Photo by Chesapeake Bay Program. Courtesy of Flickr.

Florida Senate passes bill allowing self-defense killing of black bears

The Florida Senate passed SB 632 titled the “Self-Defense Act” last month, allowing people to kill black bears in Florida under specified circumstances. The bill states that if a person believes that there is an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or to others” in the presence of a black bear, no criminal or civil penalty will be enforced for shooting and killing it. This legislation hasn’t been signed by Governor Ron Desantis yet and will be valid only if the person did not lure the bear in any way before the incident. Notifying the Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) within the 24 hours following the shooting is required, and the individual who killed the bear will not be allowed to interfere with the body. 

Democrats in the Florida Senate opposed the bill, offering alternatives such as stressing the importance of public education about black bears or creating garbage-securing mandates. Animal rights advocates have also strongly opposed the bill, highlighting the importance of bears to Florida’s ecosystem and the bill’s potential for a bear population decrease. 

Florida Republicans said they believe the bill is prioritizing safety and giving people the right to protect their families. The Senate also considered the fact that the FWC received 5,907 bear-related calls in 2022. “In those fiscally constrained counties, when you only have two or three deputies on call at a time, showing up at your house could be two hours, or a bear issue could be the next day,” Florida Republican and sponsor of the bill Corey Simon stated. “It just depends on how many folks and how close they may be to the residents. And what we don’t want to do is hamstring our people in thinking that they can’t protect themselves.”

Leave a Reply