Tracy Caruso Can Bearly Believe Anyone Voted Against Killing a Bear in Self-Defense

A bear breaks into a man’s home while he and his family are finishing dinner. The family runs for cover while the man gets his rifle. He shoots the bear in his kitchen and calls the sheriff, who then contacts the Florida Wildlife Commission. FWC comes out to investigate, takes the dead bear, and arrests the man who goes to jail. This sounds crazy, but this is a true story, and that’s why HB 87, a bill in the Florida House filed by State Representative Jason Shoaf, R-Leon County, came to be. HB 87 allows people to kill a bear in self-defense. While it did pass in the House, the debate was ferocious. 

Some believe people should be jailed for killing a bear in self-defense. HB 87 will protect someone in the unfortunate event that they have to.

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Black bears, once a conservation concern but no longer classified as such, have multiplied in droves in recent years and have become a problem in Shoaf’s part of the state. Lest we think this isn’t an issue elsewhere, during a debate for the bill on the senate side, State Senator Ana Maria Rodriguez, R-Miami, discussed a scare she had when she saw a bear wandering down the street in her neighborhood. Jack Furnari wrote about the unbearable Senate debate, which can be read here. 

Believe it or not, protecting your life and that of your family is a partisan issue, with Republicans mostly being in favor of it and Dems not so much. On the House side, five Democrats voted in favor, and three Republicans voted against it, including Peggy Gossett-Seidman, R-Boca Raton. She has been asked three times by FL Jolt why she voted against this common-sense legislation but has refused to answer, probably because there is no good answer. Let’s state a fact. A bear is a wild animal. Animals are by nature unpredictable and can’t be reasoned with. How can anyone have a problem with someone protecting themselves and their family from a wild animal? 

From left to right. State Senator Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton. Clerk of Circuit Court Joe Abruzzo. State Representative Peggy Gossett-Seidman.

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State Representative Anna Eskamani, D-Orange County, described black bears as shy creatures. She seemed to be more worried about the life of a bear than human life. Others discussed that bears are vegetarians, which is untrue. Bears are omnivores who will eat you if they get hungry enough and can hurt you, even if they don’t kill you.

This is a typical reaction one would have when confronted by any large animal, even a stuffed one.

Many years ago, there was a highly publicized story about a woman with a pet chimpanzee. The woman and the chimp were besties who would comb each other’s hair. That friendship ended when the chimp freaked out and ripped her face off. She needed a full face transplant. Recently, we’ve heard about President Biden’s pet dog, who has bitten twenty-four people in the White House. The grisly moral of these stories is that even seemingly “nice” animals can be dangerous. I, for one, don’t plan on being the one to try to coax an animal into a friendly understanding, resulting in a handshake.

From HB 87:

A person is not subject to any administrative, civil, or criminal penalties for taking a bear with lethal force if:

(a) The person reasonably believed that their action was necessary to avoid an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to themself or another, an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to a pet, or substantial damage to a dwelling as defined in s. 776.013(5);

(b) The person did not intentionally or recklessly place themself or the pet in a situation in which they would be likely to need to use lethal force as described in paragraph (a); and

(c) The person notifies the commission within 24 hours after using lethal force to take the bear.

(2) A bear taken under this section must be disposed of by the commission. The person taking the bear may not possess, sell, or dispose of the bear or its parts.

The most compelling argument in favor of the bill was presented in debate by State Representative Kevin Chamblis, D-Miami Dade, who, to paraphrase, said that he has a toddler and would do anything to protect her. Children love to run around and play. They should be free to do so in their yards, but if Chambliss saw a bear outside while his daughter was playing, he said he would shoot that bear without hesitation, no calling FWC. 

In real life, you can’t hug a bear, even if it looks cute and cuddly.

I asked Legislative Aide Walter Buikus his thoughts on the bear bill. He looked at me incredulously and said. “It’s unthinkable that something like this is a party issue. If you see a bear approaching you, you shoot it, no questions asked. It’s a f-king bear.”

Other stories you may want to read:

Less Fashionable Squad Member Tina Polsky Unbearable-The Real Ryan Boylston

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