PORT ORANGE – On Saturday, June 20th, Senator Tom A. Wright’s Senate Bill 688 (Passed as House Bill 327) was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis. The bill strengthens penalties against individuals who illegally poach bears in the state of Florida.
HB 327 tightens regulations on the illegal taking and possession of bears during the closed season, increasing the penalty from a Level Two Violation to a Level Three Violation. Under the bill, an individual that engages in illegally taking or possessing bear will be committing a first degree misdemeanor and lose their ability to hold an FWC license or permit for three years. If that individual were to possess for sale or sell a bear during the closed season, the penalty is raised to a Level Four Violation, punishable by a maximum fine of 5,000 dollars and maximum five years imprisonment.
Prior to the passage of the bill, which goes into effect on July 1st, the consequences of poaching a bear were less severe than killing a deer or turkey out of season. “I think it is of upmost importance to do everything we can to protect our bear populations here in Florida,” Sen. Wright said. “It is our responsibility to make people aware this kind of action is not tolerated, and will be met with harsh punishment.”
“I want to thank Representative David Smith (R-Winter Springs) for his steadfast commitment to getting HB 327 across the finish line, as well as the members of the Florida Legislature who showed their support for this bill,” said Sen. Wright.