More Bears Killed In Florida Hunt Than First Thought
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says more bears were killed in the state’s bear hunt than initial estimates.
Statewide, 304 bears were killed – nearly half of them in Central Florida – according to new data released today.
60% of the bears killed in the hunt- the state’s first in 20 years- were females.
FWC says 38 of them were lactating mother bears.
But officials say motherless cubs should be able to survive at the same rate as cubs with mothers.
FWC’s director of habitat and species conservation Thomas Eason said hunters did a good job following state guidelines to avoid moms with cubs.
“On average you would expect about 50% of the females to be lactating,” said Eason.
“We had about 20%.”
One hunter was cited for breaking the rules, another was issued a warning, and there are four active investigations.
Major Craig Duval with the FWC Law Enforcement Division said the investigations aren’t just for underweight bears.
“They’re different things we can’t go into detail about because it’s still under investigation,” he said.
Environmental advocates said a bear cub hit and killed by a car in Seminole County this week was orphaned during the bear hunt.
Chuck O’Neal, from the advocacy group Speak Up Wekiva, said the cub weighed approximately 90 pounds and was found on State Road 46 in Rock Springs Run. He said more cubs will be hit by cars.
“Their mothers aren’t there to stop them from crossing busy roads like this,” he said.
“This just compounds the tragedy of the hunt. We’re not just losing one generation of black bears, we’re losing the next generation as well.”
But FWC said there has been no increase in the number of cubs killed by cars since the hunt.
“I can tell you we actively have lots of people who call in when there’s a cub out there, and we don’t have any reports of that,” said Thomas Eason.
“There are always throughout the year reports of orphaned cubs, but those are relatively low and there have been no increased activity in that regard,” he said.
Officials expect the bear hunt to be repeated annually, but a 2016 hunt hasn’t been confirmed.
FWC said the bear hunt will do nothing to curtail the amount of bear-human interactions.
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