Florida Wildlife Officials Call Off Bear Hunt After Second Day
The state’s first black bear hunt in two decades has ended after two days. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported 295 bears had been killed by Sunday evening. The state's official cap is 320 dead bears.
Jeffrey Nale is one of the hunters in central Florida that, together, killed 139 bears. Nale caught a 178 lbs. female between trees at a preserve in Lake County.
“I knew there was something in there," he said. "I didn’t know if it was a bear, a dear, or a hog, and it ended up being a bear. So I shot it. Kabang! 300 magnum.”
Animal welfare advocates criticized the state for not calling the hunt off by mid-day Sunday when the number of dead bears had reached 293.
Activist Chuck O’Neal said the state couldn’t prove the need to kill any of the state’s black bears, and that it didn’t define clear hunting rules or enforce them.
“We had reports of a lactating female being brought in and the hunter bragging that he had to pull the cubs off the mother to get it in the truck,” he noted on the first day of the hunt.
O'Neal and other environmentalists argued that federal officials would need to get involved in the hunt if the state did not call it off.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission maintains, however, that it had systems in place to monitor when it was approaching its cap.
The state says hunting has a long history in contributing to conservation and that Florida is one of 33 states with regulated bear hunts. Hunters have until noon Monday to register their kill at the remaining hunting check stations.
The Commission sold more than 3,700 permits for the black bear hunt, earning more than $376,900 from the sales.