Florida's 'Cocaine Bear' Bill Heads to the House

American black bear

Photo: agus fitriyanto / iStock / Getty Images

A controversial effort to strengthen self-defense arguments for people who shoot bears on their property is headed back to the Florida House.  The bill is also nicknamed “the cocaine bear bill” because its sponsor said Floridians have the right to protect themselves against “the ones that are on crack.”

The Republican-controlled Senate this week approved a bill that critics contend will result in increased deaths of the once-threatened species.  

The House passed the bill last week. But the Senate made a change to make clear the self-defense protections wouldn’t be available to people who lure bears with food or in other ways.  

The change means the bill will have to be considered again by the House.  

Bill sponsor Corey Simon says the bill is needed because of an increase in bears venturing into residential areas. 

“This is just strictly a self-defense bill. Much like we have self-defense abilities if there was a person that broke into our house. We should have those same abilities if a bear comes into your home. So, that is simply what this is.” 

The proposal, in part, says people would not be subject to penalties for killing bears if they reasonably believe that the action was necessary to avoid an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.  

People who shoot bears would be required to notify the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission within 24 hours and show they did not intentionally place themselves or their pets in situations where they needed to kill bears.  

Also, people would not be allowed to possess or sell bear carcasses after the killings. 

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