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Bear Self-Defense Bill Signed in Florida

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Bear Self-Defense Bill Signed in Florida

Posted 2024-07-01  by  Stephanie Mallory

The controversial legislation goes into effect July 1, 2024

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that allows people to shoot a bear if they feel it is a threat to themselves or their homes.

Naples Daily News reports that the controversial bill has sparked debate between activists, politicians, and Florida residents.

Known as the “Taking of Bears” bill, HB 87 seeks to provide an exemption from penalties for killing bears without permits or authorization under certain circumstances.

The Florida House passed the bill 88-29 on Feb. 15 while the Senate's version SB 632 passed 24-12 days later.

  • It provides that a person is not subject to any administrative, civil, or criminal penalty for taking a bear with lethal force if the person:

  • Reasonably believed that his or her action was necessary to avoid an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to himself or herself or to another, an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to a pet, or substantial damage to a dwelling;

  • Did not lure the bear with food or attractants for an illegal purpose, including, but not limited to, training dogs to hunt bears;

  • Did not intentionally or recklessly place himself or herself or a pet in a situation in which he or she would be likely to need to use lethal force; and

  • Notified the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) within 24 hours after using lethal force to take the bear.

Anyone who kills a bear must notify FWC within 24 hours, which will then dispose of the bear. No one may possess, sell, or dispose of the bear or its parts.

Wildlife activists say the bill’s language could allow for bears to be killed without posing any true threat. But many other Floridians have voiced support for the bill. In an interview with Politico, Lane Stephens said the bill would give residents the confidence they need to protect themselves in their homes, especially in rural North Florida.

“If that bear is in the house and doing damage and tearing the place apart you will be able to take care of that bear and not have to worry about being arrested,” Stephens said.

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