Florida’s First Bear Hunt in 20 Years Claims 201 Bears On First Day (updated #)

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After 6 Months of Protest, Bear Hunting Begins (updated numbers)

Recently, the Florida government approved its first bear hunt in over 20 years.  During that time, the black bear population has risen by about 1000% (going from about 300 to over 3,000).

That doesn’t mean that the even went without controversy, though.  There were a full 6 months of protests before the event.

However, that didn’t stop the hunt – nor did it stop it from being popular.  3,700 people paid for a $100 permit to try and hunt a bear, even though the hunt will end when the 320th bear is killed (or when a week is over).  Those are pretty bad odds, and it’s looking like the hunt will be over early in the week.

Watch the video for more details!

Find out more about the story below the break!

FWC said the four bear management units open to hunting reported the following harvest totals for Saturday:

  • East Panhandle BMU = 81 bears – closed to further hunting
  • Central Panhandle BMU = 99 bears – closed to further hunting
  • North BMU = 12 bears – open for bear hunting Sunday
  • South BMU = 15 bears – open for bear hunting Sunday

One after the next, hunters showed up to Lake County’s Rock Springs Run State Reserve checking in the bears they shot and killed Saturday.

It’s the first time in more than 20 years a bear hunt is allowed in Florida and Bryan Smith, who shot and killed one of the first bears this morning, says it’s needed.

 

FWC said the four bear management units open to hunting reported the following harvest totals for Saturday:

  • East Panhandle BMU = 81 bears – closed to further hunting
  • Central Panhandle BMU = 99 bears – closed to further hunting
  • North BMU = 12 bears – open for bear hunting Sunday
  • South BMU = 15 bears – open for bear hunting Sunday

One after the next, hunters showed up to Lake County’s Rock Springs Run State Reserve checking in the bears they shot and killed Saturday.

It’s the first time in more than 20 years a bear hunt is allowed in Florida and Bryan Smith, who shot and killed one of the first bears this morning, says it’s needed.

“The younger bears, they’re docile. I wouldn’t want to shoot one. They’re great. They’re like ghosts and don’t bother anyone,” said Smith. “Those don’t need to be taken. But those big ones, those need to be taken.”

Smith shot a 475-pound bear on his private property near Eustis, and says it was a problem for him and his neighbors for years. Before Saturday, there was nothing he could do about it.

“They do a lot of damage on the property,” said Smith. “They’ve gotten into the wildlife. It killed the neighbor’s pig and their goat, and it’s nice being able to take this one out.”

Paul Palmer shot and killed his bear, which weighed 312 pounds, just before 8 a.m. on some private property in Lake County.

He has one of the more than 3,700 permits FWC issued.

“When there’s bear signs on the highway and people see as many bears as they’re seeing, there’s no lack of bears,” said Palmer.

When a bear is killed, they’re brought to one of the several weigh stations across the state. FWC then checks it and weighs it before giving it back to the person who killed it.

“We feel this is no different than any other hunt where hunters have gone and checked in,” said Greg Workman with FWC. “We’re then able to collect the data we need.”

But the hunt didn’t come without controversy.

There have been many protests around the state this week, with a large gathering at Lake Eola on Friday. At the Rock Springs Run weigh station Saturday, only a few folks showed up, but watched with teary eyes.

“The protesters, in my opinion, are the vast minority of the people,” said Palmer. “They’re not hunters, they live in cities. They probably wouldn’t want to go out in the woods.”

Hunters were given the chance to kill up to 320 bears throughout the state.

UPDATE: – The hunt was closed within 2 days after a total of 295 bears had been killed.

Source: Off Grid Quest

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