One of the latest proposed constitutional. Amendments to surface for possible inclusion on the 2022 ballot is something called the Florida Iconic Species Protection Amendment.
It is proposed by an organization called the Center for Environmental and Democratic Rights., whose headquarters is in Spokane, Wash. The center works all over the world on issues involving the rights of nature to be protected from pollution, overexploitation and other issues.
It is advertised as a measure that would remove oversight of a number of species from the constitutional jurisdiction of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in order to protect Florida species ranging from red-cockaded woodpeckers to leatherback turtles.
But the heart of the amendment’s language is a single issue—whether Florida black bears can be legally hunted. The amendment, if approved, would permanently ban bear hunting in Florida. None of the other species on this list are game species.
This follows the controversy over bear-hunting in 2015, the first time the species had been legally hunted in Florida since 1993.
The 2015 season was based on a staff recommendation that the Florida bear population had recovered to the point that limited hunting would not seriously affect the population. However, in the background was pressure to allow trophy hunting by people who had never had a chance to hunt for bears and concerns that the hunt resulted in killing female bears and leaving their young to fend for themselves.
There has been no further hunting authorized since then, but it is a year-to-year discussion by FWC’s commissioners.
As the petition process moves forward, it is likely to encounter resistance on principle from hunting groups because of concerns that it could open the door to other hunting restrictions. It also will draw support from animal rights groups and other organizations that oppose hunting.
And, if voters were to approve the amendment, it would be interesting to see what the Florida Legislature would do to thwart it as it has on previous grassroots initiatives.