FWC releases new numbers showing increase in Florida bear population

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COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- In two weeks, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials will decide whether or not to allow bear hunting this fall for the first time in more than 20 years.

New FWC statistics released Wednesday from a year-long study show Florida’s black bear population is soaring. Neighbors in Southwest Florida who’ve encountered bears in their backyards agree.

A black bear recently spotted crossing the road on Florida Gulf Coast University’s campus isn’t as surprising as it may have been 10 years ago.

FWC officials say the bear was drawn to the smell of trash, leftover from construction workers eating lunch the day before.

“The bear population is actually growing, it’s a good example of a success story. There was a point in time when their numbers were very low.”

Naples Zoo CEO Jack Mulvena says the black bear numbers have gotten to the point where they no longer need protection, but won’t go so far as saying that resurrecting black bear hunting is the solution.

FWC is reporting Florida’s black bear population has risen 30 percent in central Florida since 2002. South Florida’s numbers won’t be ready until 2016, but wildlife officials believe the numbers have grown considerably here too.

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