This past Sunday Florida wildlife Officials closed a week long bear hunt after just two days of bear hunting! Nick Whiley of the FWC said that this hunt was the first bear hunt in Florida in the past 21 years, and that it was a learning process for all involved. A total of 320 bears were going to be allowed to be harvested during that 7 day period. Check-in stations were set up over the four areas that allowed hunting.
There were 3000 permits issued and baiting and dogs were not allowed. It became apparent that after the first day of hunting that the hunters were much more proficient than expected. By day two 295 bear were dead, and the Florida Wildlife officials decided to call off the rest of the hunt. There were already animal rights activist campaigning against the hunt and wildlife officials were well aware they under the microscope!
Florida hunters paid $100.00 dollars for a permit and out of state hunters forked out $300.00 dollars for a license. Over $376,900 was raised for conservation projects. There were a couple glitches during the hunt as a 42 pound cub was killed along with an 88 pound bear. The hunter who shot the small bear was given a citation and the other hunter a warning! Hunters who participated in the hunt were very pleased with the results, and there weren’t many complaints about shutting the hunt down early.
All in all Florida Wildlife officials said it was a learning experience and it will help in controlling the human bear encounters in the future. Before the hunt, Florida estimated there was a population of 3500 bears in the state. Due to the early on success of the hunt many think that estimate should of been much higher.