Controversial Black Bear Hunt Ends In Florida

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Florida bear cull called off; hunters kill nearly 300.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted a statement on its website saying it had closed the 2015 hunt because it was approaching an agency “objective” of 320 bears overall.

SAN FRANCISCO — Florida’s first bear hunt in two decades, which sparked protests by animal rights activists, was called off after just two days after nearly 300 bears were killed, wildlife officials said yesterday (Oct 25).FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida’s controversial black bear hunt ended after its second day after a higher than expected number of bears had been killed with 295 bears taken overall, nearing the official limit, Florida wildlife authorities said late Sunday. 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.

The hunt aimed to stabilise a population of bears that had rebounded to more than 3,000 from several hundred in the 1970s, according to the commission. The agency said hunting in the central and east panhandle portions of the state were closed on Saturday, after just one day of hunting, as hunters were more proficient than anticipated. “Regulated hunting has a long, successful history of contributing to wildlife conservation in North America. Of the 41 states with resident bear populations, 33 of them conduct hunts and all have stable to increasing bear populations,” the commission’s statement said. Hunt opponents held statewide protests on Friday, aiming to build on the international outrage generated this summer by the killing of Cecil, a rare black-maned lion, by an American dentist who was on an African hunting trip. Earlier Sunday, the agency’s executive director, Nick Wiley, told The Associated Press the agency closely monitors the numbers of bears taken and was already leaning toward ending the hunt after two days.

State wildlife officers have received increasing complaints about bears in neighbourhoods close to woodlands where the animals have long roamed, as suburban development has further encroached on to their habitat. The agency’s statement added that 23 bears were taken in the North unit at last count and 21 bears in the South unit before those final two areas were closed Sunday to hunting. “From a biological sustainable population perspective, none of these numbers are worrisome to us, we have large growing bear populations,” said FWC’s Thomas Eason, speaking Sunday before the overall hunt had ended.

Activists have argued that the state should instead focus through other means on curbing nuisance bears and assuring safety through trash management and other means. Officials set up 33 stations where hunters were required to record each kill within 12 hours, with some of the last stations to remain open until noon Monday.

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