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Another Bear Hunt Floated In New Plan, Along With Other Management Options

Wildlife authorities check a dead bear during Florida's bear hunt. Photo by Amy Green

Florida wildlife authorities are calling for public comment on their first update to the state’s bear management plan since the animal was removed from the state’s threatened list in 2012.

The plan comes four years after a controversial hunt that ended early when hunters killed more bears than expected.

Florida Fish and Wildlife commissioners had called for the plan after voting to hold off on another hunt. It will be presented to the commissioners during their December meeting.

Among the biggest changes is a new discussion of ways to manage the state’s growing bear population, now up to 4,000. The options include fertility control and another hunt.

“What the plan talks about is that at some point as we continue to have a growing people population and a growing bear population there won’t be enough suitable habitat for bears,” says Dave Telesco of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “And bears will have to live somewhere else, and those somewhere elses may be neighborhoods.”

The plan says bears have hurt eight people since 2012 as they continue to venture into neighborhoods. Central Florida is home to the state’s largest population with 1,200.

Environmental groups are opposing another bear hunt.

Chuck O’Neal of Speak Up Wekiva, a Central Florida group that sued unsuccessfully to stop the 2015 hunt, says Florida’s booming growth continues to pressure bears.

“The Florida black bear should be taken off the game species list. It just should not be hunted for fun. It was a bad idea for 2015, and it’s a bad idea in 2019.”

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a regular contributor for NPR, PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many other top news organizations. Her in-progress book on the Everglades is under contract with Johns ... Read Full Bio »