The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved the controlled hunting of about 320 black bears starting Oct. 24, 2015 - a first in the state after over two decades.

The objective of restoring the said plan is to keep the population of bears in a steady condition across the different areas of Florida that are known to have hunting capabilities. Although, hunting has been proven as the most efficient and conscientious way to control the number of bears, it is just a part of the FWC's comprehensive plan to manage the animal population.

The controlled hunting measures will take place in various parts of Florida including its north and central parts, the eastern region of Panhandle and in southern counties such as Collier, Lee, Broward, Miami-Dade, Hendry and Palm Beach. The hunting will first be conducted for two days, after which the officials will evaluate whether the hunt may or may not persist with the original one-week plan.

Hunters who plan to take part in this event must secure a permit from the FWC, which costs $100 for residents of Florida and $300 for those who reside outside of the state. Through this permit, hunters will be allowed to kill only one bear; nonetheless, environmentalists are still concerned that the hunt will go haywire once it starts. At present, about 1,900 people have already obtained permits.

According to authorities, the population of black bears in Florida is estimated at 3,100 at present. Some of these animals have been observed to roam around in areas, where previous sightings of the species were not noted. In 2013, the complaints about the rising population of the black bears have started, as attacks on humans became rampant. FWC was then prompted to draft the hunt project, justifying that the bears had turned into an object of annoyance among residents as it intrude pets, people and homes for food.

The citizens of Florida expressed different opinions regarding the upcoming bear hunt, which has not been implemented since 1994.

According to Greg Smith, staff member from Guns Galore, the population of bears has become too high and that actions should be executed. He even commented that a Winchester Magnum 300 would suffice to hunt a black bear and that he is willing to sell one for a hunters who has obtained a permit.

Environmental groups are not pleased with the controlled bear hunt. Bears are the animal icons of Florida, says Commissioner Ron Bergeron, who voted against the implementation of the hunt. Some commented that the problem lies in the people, not in bears as residents do not optimally secure their trash cans. A total of about 1.6 million people reside in and around the areas where the black bears loiter.

Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife | Flickr

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