Fla. bear hunt ends after 2 days; quota nearly reached

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Fla. bear hunt ends after 2 days; quota nearly reached.

In all, 295 bears killed across the state were reported when the hunt was ended by state wildlife officials at 9 p.m. FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — After just two days, Florida ended its controversial black bear hunt because a higher than expected number of bears had been killed. 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.

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 became divisive as animal groups looked to stop it through legal challenges and claimed that hunting bears so soon after they were taken off the endangered species list in 2012, was detrimental to their populations. 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.

Commissioners approved the hunt in June after a stark increase in human-bear interaction calls to the agency and a series of attacks in Central Florida suburban neighborhoods. The sale of the licenses brought in $376,900, which is slated to go toward funding efforts to reduce human conflicts with bears using better trash management. 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.

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. 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.

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