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Florida Wildlife Officials Consider Next Bear Hunt

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

A bear hunt this fall would be broken into three, four-day periods, with hunters applying on a first-come, first-served basis. Those are some staff recommendations that are before the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission today.

The recommendation to hold another bear hunt expands on a proposal from state biologists without offering hard numbers of bears that could be killed, or suggesting a number of permits that could be made available.

The staff recommendation is among four proposals that have been put before the commission, including holding a hunt similar to one last October, delaying another hunt until next year, or prohibiting a hunt for the next several years.

Saying the state should focus on non-lethal ways to reduce human-bear interactions, Kate MacFall of the Humane Society of the United States wants the commission to reject the hunt.

“The opposition is growing,” she said. “People are opposing this and getting louder and louder. Yet, the FWC does seem to have their mind already made up, that there will be another bear hunt this fall. That is really disappointing, because Floridians don’t want it.”

Gun-rights supporters, including Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association, have urged the commission to increase the number of days from last year’s hunt as a way to reduce the bear population and the potential for human-bear conflicts.

“People who put animals ahead of human life are doing so on the basis of emotion, and a lack of common sense,” said Hammer.

Under the staff recommendation, the first hunting period would start October 21st, with the second four-day period starting October 26th and the third on the 31st of the month.

A hunt last October was planned for up to seven days but was called off after two days as hunters quickly approached the quota of 320 bears.

The overall number of bears targeted this year could be up from last year as the state has increased its estimate of adult black bears to 4,350.

For last year’s hunt, in which 304 bears were killed, the agency estimated there were about 3,500 bears in the state.