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Bears Who Didn’t Attack Florida Woman Executed by Wildlife Gestapo

Photo by Waverley Traylor/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo by Waverley Traylor/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

After 54-year-old Seminole County, Florida, resident Susan Chalfant sustained injuries during a Dec. 2, 2013, encounter with a black bear, the state’s vengeful Wildlife Gestapo profiled, captured, and executed two animals and imprisoned three others.

No sooner had the state’s death squad executed a female bear than they turned their punitive attention to a male animal, one they all-but knew at the time had nothing to do with the attack on Chalfant.

The Orlando-area ABC affiliate WFTV recently made public a sickening e-mail exchange between Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff in which the agency’s community relations director, Irv “Doc” Kokol, wrote: “Male bear caught in trap unrelated to injury event. Bear team meeting. We can discuss at tomorrow’s AM call.”

Responding to Kokol’s e-mail, a media relations officer named Carli Segelson wrote: “Just spoke with Dave and they are going to put down this bear because it fits the criteria mentioned in the talking points. Attached are updated talking points to include this bear. Let me know if we need to make any more adjustments prior to the plethora of calls I am anticipating.”

The “criteria” for deserving the death penalty in this case didn’t add up to much.

As the Orlando Sentinel reported, “wildlife officers weren’t sure if they were going to get good DNA evidence so they deemed all ‘solitary adult bears’ — which display more predatory behavior — as suspects, the report said. The two euthanized bears fell into that category and matched the description of the attacker.”

Neither bear was involved in the attack on Chalfant.

Ultimately, the Florida Wildlife Gestapo used DNA evidence to convict a third bear, who was imprisoned with two of her cubs (a third cub had been struck and killed by a motor vehicle, according to WFTV) at Busch Gardens in Tampa. The cubs will eventually be paroled, but their mother will spend the rest of her days behind bars.

Adding insult to this maddening story, WFTV reported that “bears in the Longwood neighborhood where (Chalfant) was mauled … may have been illegally fed by the woman’s neighbor.”

It’s also fair to assume that the convicted bear was merely standing her ground, protecting her cubs from a threat she perceived in Chalfant and the dogs with whom the woman was walking.

This whole infuriating story can be boiled down to a few simple truths: The convicted bear was behaving like a bear, and the humans who imprisoned her after mercilessly executing two other suspects have acted like monsters. 

Clearly, Florida’s Wildlife Gestapo was in a hurry to execute the offending beast, and the all-too familiar excuse for that monstrous behavior was that the killing was carried out in the interest of “public safety.”

Chalfant’s claim that “that bear was trying to kill me” — as the Orlando Sentinel quoted her as saying — certainly didn’t help the situation.

(Note to Ms. Chalfant: Had the bear wanted to kill you, she’d have done just that.)

The Orlando Sentinel’s declaration that the incident was “the most severe bear attack on a human in Florida history” didn’t help the situation either.

Residents of Seminole County should be outraged by the behavior of the state’s Wildlife Gestapo, and they should hold that agency’s vengeful savages accountable for the senseless murders of two bears.

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