CONFEDERATE FLAG REMOVAL On October 19th, the first day of the special session, the Florida Senate agreed to remove the Confederate battle flag from its official seal. The United States flag, the 1513 Spanish flag, the 1564 French flag and the 1763 Great Britain flag will remain on the seal and the Confederate flag would be replaced with the State of Florida flag.
SNAKE HUNT The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has opened registration for the 2016 Python Challenge. The month-long hunt for the invasive Burmese python will start in mid-January. The pythons can grow to over 20 feet long and are considered a nuisance. A similar month-long hunt in 2013 had nearly 1,600 participants who were able to remove 68 pythons from the Everglades.
BEAR HUNT The FWC announced earlier this year that they would permit a week-long black bear hunt starting October 24th, the first in Florida in 21 years. Over 3,700 permits were purchased and wildlife officials set a limit of 320 bears. With 298 bears confirmed killed the first two days, the hunt was ended early. Controversy surrounded the hunt, which wildlife officials claimed was needed to control the bear population and limit the bear-human interactions. Activists argued that the State should instead focus on curbing nuisance bears and assuring safety through trash management and other means. The last census, taken in 2002, estimated there are 3,200 black bears in Florida. The FWC has said that they intend to make the bear hunt an annual event.
Adding fuel to the fire was the discovery that more than 100 names were redacted from the public list of permit holders. Opponents of the hunt say this is in violation of State Sunshine law. The FWC, however, claims they were legally redacted under portions of the Sunshine Law which limits the release of personal information of certain public officials and their families.