Amid outcry, Fla. says short bear hunt season ran smoothly

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Amid outcry, Fla. says short bear hunt season ran smoothly.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Hunters killed 298 black bears over the weekend during the first legal hunt in Florida in more than two decades, state wildlife officials said Monday.The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ended the first bear hunt in 21 years early Sunday night after confirming that 295 bears had been killed, just shy of the 320-bear statewide limit.

Florida approved the hunt earlier this year, saying the state’s black bear population had grown too large and that attacks on people had become more common. As Florida has become the third-most populous state in the U.S., people have continued moving deeper into bear habitat at a time when the animals’ numbers have grown. Part of the reason for the bear’s comeback was the state’s ban on hunting after black bear numbers plummeted into the hundreds, giving them legal protections meant to preserve imperiled species.

By that night, hunters in the Eastern Panhandle area had killed 81 bears, double the quota for the region, and in Central Florida, they had killed 99 of the 100-bear quota. At a June press conference, members of the Sierra Club, Humane Society of the United States, the Center for Biological Diversity and the League of Women Voters called upon Gov.

With animal lovers protesting the decision to open hunting season on bears, more than 3,500 people purchased bear hunting permits, even though the cap was just 320. Although state officials admitted they were “surprised” by the number of bears that were killed by hunters, they said Monday they anticipate holding bear hunts on an annual basis as now occurs in 32 other states.

Keeping the bear population in check in check is important, he says, because it helps ensure the strongest bears survive and that the genetic makeup of the entire species improves. “I don’t think it’s because of overwhelming interest in it,” Artiles said. “I think it’s because there’s more bears out there than people think.” Still, Artiles says he thinks the FWC handled the hunt well. They also continued to defend the hunt, saying it was heavily regulated and that they remained in constant contact with the hunters who received permits via text message, social media and email. With fresher bear population estimates due next year, though, he’s calling for a lottery system to make sure the same few hunters don’t bag all the bears every year. “I wasn’t able to hunt because the quota was met,” he said, “but to any hunter who says ‘I missed this opportunity,’ there will be further opportunities.” It’s not the bears that are in the woods.” Wildlife officials had already shut down hunting in designated central and east Panhandle regions of Florida after the first day Saturday.

Diane Eggeman, the FWC’s director of hunting and game management division, conceded that the protests surrounding the hunt did motivate state officials to shut it down even though they were still a little below the initial goal they set. The statement late Sunday said additional North and South units were closed to hunting after the second day, meaning hunting had ended in all four “bear management units” were it was allowed.

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