Gov. Scott a Conservationist? Advocates to Protest Ceremony

Dec 01, 15 Gov. Scott a Conservationist? Advocates to Protest Ceremony

By Mona Shand

During his five years in office, Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t made many friends in the environmental and animal-rights communities, which is why some are baffled that he’s being honored for conservation efforts this weekend.

Scott’s track record on these issues includes slashing water-management budgets, banning the term “climate change” in state offices and supporting the state’s first bear hunt in decades.

Jeff Geragi, president of the Animal Activists Network, said he couldn’t believe Scott had been chosen to receive a conservation honor from the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida.

“I thought it was complete lunacy,” Geragi said. “This is somebody that’s done absolute harm, not only to the environment down here but to the bear population. And now, it’s almost like a slap in the face, actually.”

The Fish and Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit group that provides funding and support to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state agency that approved last month’s bear hunt. More than 150 people plan to attend a peaceful protest at the Saturday event where Scott and his wife will receive the honor.

Environmental and animal-rights advocates are questioning why Gov. Rick Scott was selected to receive a conservation honor. Courtesy: fl.go

Last month, 320 bears were killed in a two-day period, after the governor refused to issue an executive order to stop the controversial hunt. Geragi said he sees nothing honorable in that decision.

“It’s our fault. We’re the ones that are encroaching on their natural habitat,” he said, “and the answer to this isn’t to just kill something.”

The Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida said Scott has been instrumental in helping develop a strong connection between fish and wildlife conservation and traditional outdoor activities such as hunting.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the planned protest.

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