Florida's Top Wildlife Authority Defends Proposed Bear Hunt
Florida's top wildlife authority says bears represent "a great conservation success story" in the state and that it's time move from saving them to managing them.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's executive director released a statement Monday defending a proposed hunt of the animals.
Nick Wiley says wildlife authorities proposed the hunt after exhaustive studies found a strong recovery in the bear population. The animal was removed from the threatened list in 2012.
He says the hunt is not a response to four recent maulings, including three in Central Florida.
He says the goal is to manage the bear population and that Florida is the only state with a population of more than 600 that does not authorize hunting.
Wiley says hunting is proven to be biologically sustainable and the best way to balance bear populations with available habitat.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is scheduled to take a final vote Wednesday on the state's first bear hunt in two decades. The hunt would take place this fall.