Girl, 10, asks Hillsborough commissioners to ban black bear hunt

- An unexpected guest spoke passionately about ending black bear hunts in Florida at Wednesday's Hillsborough County Commission meeting.

Megan Sorbo, of Orlando, is 10-years-old and said her love for the Everglades drives her passion to save Florida's black bears from hunters.

Megan came to the meeting prepared - armed with an impassioned speech and a pink step-stool to help her reach the podium in front of commissioners

"I am here to speak on behalf of Florida black bears," Megan began. "Using a claim of scientific calculations, the FWC decided on a kill quota of 320 bears total for the state."

Megan said the "most sickening part" of last year's hunt was there were more hunting licenses issued than the estimated number of bears in the state.

"Can you imagine having the size of your home and yard reduced by over 80-percent," Megan asked. "And then having people wanting to come into your now small home to hunt you while you were doing nothing wrong?"

She finished by asking the commission to adopt a resolution, banning black bear hunting in Hillsborough County.

"We must work to protect and not kill our bears left in Florida," Megan said. "Bears have already lost over 80% of their habitat and have done nothing to merit being killed."

Though she spoke among other adults advocating for the same cause, Megan stole the show.

"You tackled a tough issue,and you did it very well," Commissioner Les Miller, Jr. said.

"We don't have many young people come and present in public comment," said Commissioner Sandra Murman. "Here's a young child that has really taken this cause to heart and is really trying to help out."

This mini-activist's inspiration came from her first visit to the Everglades.

"I'm trying not to be so emotional," Megan said after the meeting. "They're beautiful animals. I've seen one once. They will defend themselves and their cubs if threatened but that is not a reason to kill them."

FWC reported just over 300 bears were killed in last year's hunt. Officials maintain it's a "management tool" for an increasing population. Opponents like Sorbo argue current population numbers are only a guess. She's out to spread the word.

"If more people speak out than just being armchair activists and just blowing hot air on Facebook, they might actually get some results," Megan said.

No matter where you stand, there's no arguing this young girl speaks with the poise and passion of someone well beyond her years.

"It's my future kids' future. That's why we need more young children speaking," Megan said.

Megan also has a blog, and YouTube videos focused on raising awareness for all Florida wildlife.

As for the resolution, Commissioner Murman said it's more of a state issue. However, the Hillsborough County Commission is looking into it, to see what it entails and if it's something that can be addressed here.

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