Bear hunting in Florida hasn’t been a thing since 1994. But now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission wants to open the hunt for black bear this year as a way of managing the population.
The goal is to reduce the number of black bears, which has reached about 2,500 bears in recent years with bear run-ins increasingly more prevalent in neighborhood areas. A 2012 ABC News report captures two bears wrestling in a front yard.
The proposed hunting season would result in a net 275 bears being killed.
Diane Eggeman, director of the commission’s Division of Hunting and Game Management, told the Palm Beach Post the bear population has grown steadily over the past 15-20 years. “Our job, of the agency, is to manage that growing population and the best tool to manage that population growth across the board is to use hunting,” she told the paper.
Environmental groups meanwhile are opposed to bear hunting in Florida, sparking demonstrations in Tallahassee and across the state.
Kate MacFall, the Humane Society’s Florida director, told the Palm Beach Post that the measure would not achieve its intended purpose of quelling the existence of nuisance bears that can endanger people.
“The bears being hunted are the big bears deep in the woods, because you can’t go hunting in the neighborhoods. That’s not how it works,” she told the paper. “Those deep in the woods, those are not the problem bears. And the bears going into human trash are the problem. And those are the ones not being hunted.”
Photo credit: American black bear – Getty Images