Florida's first legal bear hunt in 21 years hunt saw 224 bears killed over the weekend, prompting animal rights activists’ anger. A cap of 320 had been set.
The number of bears killed in the Florida panhandle region is more than double the quota of 40, which had been set by the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. The hunt in the panhandle has been reportedly called off this morning.
Commission director of hunting and game management Diane Eggeman says, “We underestimated the hunters success for the first two days in two bear management units.”
Another commission official says the bear hunt may be called off altogether this week.
Environmentalists are calling the bear hunt cruel and unnecessary saying that because of the time difference between an actual bear kill and the time it is reported to the Commission, it is likely the kill numbers will exceed the set quote. Activist group ‘Speak Up, Wekiva’ says hunters receive little oversight.
The organization, which unsuccessfully tried to stop the bear hunt through court action, monitored the hunt from check-in stations throughout the state. They say officials should call off the hunt immediately.
Florida State issued 3,778 bear hunting permits as part of a plan it claims will control black bear attacks on residents and their pets. Each permit allows a hunter to kill one bear and hunters have 12 hours from the time of the kill to report it and get the bears to one of 33 check-in stations.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, says, “Whether you are talking black bears in Florida or grizzlies in Wyoming, the first resort for management shouldn’t be shooting them and calling it sound management. Are we really solving problems or creating new ones?”
According to the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission there are 3,000 bears roaming the woods of Florida.