Nearly 300 bears killed in controversial Florida hunt

October 26, 2015
Florida's bear population has reached an estimated number of 3,000, having grown from just several hundred in the 1970s
Florida's bear population has reached an estimated number of 3,000, having grown from just several hundred in the 1970s

Hunters in Florida over the weekend killed some 300 black bears as part of a controversial program allowing sportsmen to track and kill the animals, wildlife officials said Monday.

Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sold thousands of permits to sportsmen taking part in the sanctioned , which aimed to help keep the state's growing bear population in check.

The hunt was the first allowed in Florida since 1994, when the practice of killing bears was outlawed.

By mid-morning Friday, the state had sold nearly 4,000 bear hunting permits—more than Florida's estimated bear population.

Officials had said the hunt would last for as long as seven days, but cut it short late Sunday as they approached the predetermined quota of 320 culled .

Wildlife officials said that since the 1970s, Florida's bear population has grown from several hundred to more than 3,000.

The hunt held Saturday and Sunday in designated parts of the state was open to sportsmen using firearms or archery equipment.

Officials imposed a limit of one bear per hunter and said bear cubs weighing less than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) could not be hunted.

Officials said that over the years there have been a growing number of encounters—including some that proved fatal to people—in which bears have encroached upon areas inhabited by humans.

Animal rights activists protested the hunt as cruel and branded those taking part as "trophy hunters."

"This hunt is completely unnecessary and it's not supported by science or by public sentiment," said Kate MacFall, Florida state director for the Humane Society of the United States, a leading animal rights group.

"Research overwhelmingly shows that hunting bears in the woods doesn't reduce problems with bears in neighborhoods," she said.

"The state would be better off helping citizens manage trash and outdoor food sources," said MacNall.

"Unfortunately for bears, most of Florida's wildlife commissioners failed to listen to the overwhelming majority of Floridians who publicly opposed the hunt."

State officials said permits from the hunt netted some $376,900, which would be used for trash management and other efforts to limit interactions between and humans.

Explore further: Wild 'teddy bear' of Louisiana no longer endangered

Related Stories

Loose bear eludes capture in Phoenix suburb

December 22, 2014

Authorities called off the search Monday for a black bear that caused a stir when it was spotted running through an alfalfa field on the eastern edge of metropolitan Phoenix.

Polar bears may survive ice melt, with or without seals

September 4, 2015

As climate change accelerates ice melt in the Arctic, polar bears may find caribou and snow geese replacing seals as an important food source, shows a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE. The research, by Linda ...

Recommended for you

Galactic center visualization delivers star power

March 21, 2019

Want to take a trip to the center of the Milky Way? Check out a new immersive, ultra-high-definition visualization. This 360-movie offers an unparalleled opportunity to look around the center of the galaxy, from the vantage ...

Ultra-sharp images make old stars look absolutely marvelous

March 21, 2019

Using high-resolution adaptive optics imaging from the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have uncovered one of the oldest star clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. The remarkably sharp image looks back into the early history of ...

When more women make decisions, the environment wins

March 21, 2019

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.