DeSantis signs bill allowing people to kill bears, vetoes left-lane cruising crackdown

Governor Ron DeSantis signed 14 bills from this year’s legislation session, including a bill that allows Floridians to kill black bears, while he vetoed three bills, including a bill that cracks down on slow drivers in the left lane. 

On Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a controversial bill into law that allows Floridians to shoot and kill black bears on their property to defend themselves or their property, similar to the Stand Your Ground Defense. 

Supporters of the newly signed law say people have a right to protect themselves. While opponents worry it will lead to bears being killed unnecessarily and could put innocent people in danger. 

The group Bear Warriors says it plans to take legal action. 

"We will file a lawsuit to get that bill overturned. This will be protecting the future of Florida black bears, the survival of a species we love so much," said Katrina Shadix of Bear Warriors. "And, also going to save the lives of our children who are at risk of being shot by a stray bullet meant for a bear." 

The law will go into effect on July 1. Anyone who shoots a bear will have to let Florida Fish and Wildlife know within 24 hours of killing the bear and cannot keep or sell the bear carcass.

Meanwhile, a bill that would have banned drivers from cruising in the furthest left lane on Florida highways was vetoed by DeSantis. If HB 317 had passed, drivers on any road with two or more lanes where the speed limit is at least 65 mph could only use the left lane to pass and would have faced a $158 ticket for not following the law. 

Supporters of the now-vetoed bill believed it would have helped alleviate traffic. 

"We understand there are tourists who don’t know where they’re going. Get them out of the left lane," said one Florida driver. "If he had allowed it to go through, I think it would have helped with traffic, especially on I4."

However, DeSantis believed it would have done more harm than good. He wrote in his veto letter, "The language of this bill is too broad and could lead to drivers in Florida being pulled over, ticketed, and fined for driving in the furthest left lane even if they are not impeding the flow of traffic or if there are few or no other cars in the immediate area."