Florida Black Bear Population "Robust" Say Wildlife Officials
That’s how many black bears are roaming Florida according to state officials. Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission released the numbers today from its 2015 bear census.
“We’re having more bears born and surviving than are dying. 50 to over 100% growth rates over 12 to 13 years. That’s really good news for bears in Florida. These are strong rebounding bear populations," said spokesman Thomas Eason during a press conference over the phone.
There were about 300 black bears in Florida in the 1970s, leading the population to end up on the state's endangered species list. Unregulated hunting and infrastructural changes across the state caused the drop. By 2002, however, the number of black bears had reached 2,460. Today, officials estimate the population has grown 60 percent.
They say it's because the number of cubs being born is outpacing the number of bears dying. Florida Fish & Wildlife spokesman Thomas Eason says this is partly why the state approved the hunt.
“Our goal of the hunt last year was to slow the growth and begin to stabilize bear populations, but it’s premature to speculate on what may happen this year.”
Wildlife officials don’t have the exact number of how many black bears are currently roaming the state.
Environmental groups criticized the wildlife commission for allowing a hunt before counting all the state’s black bears.