FORT MYERS, Fla. – Wildlife officials said by Sunday hunters had brought in 295 of the 320 black bears allowed to be killed during a controversial bear hunting season.
Earlier this year, the state approved a seven-day hunt for October to help control the population of black bears in the sunshine state. Saturday was the first day and less than 48 hours later, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials said they were considering closing the hunt. During a press conference Sunday, officials said the number of bears checked in was still less than quota, but they were surprised at how quickly hunters had killed most of the bears.
“We had a lot of hunters signup. I think as opposed to in other states where that pressure is spread out over the whole season, we got almost all of the hunting pressure on day one,” said Thomas Eason with Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The state is broken up into four regions where hunting is allowed. As of Saturday, two of those regions had been closed due to the number of bears checked in. The region that covers Southwest Florida was still open but closed late Sunday night.
While the hunting season is closed, check stations within Southwest Florida’s region will stay open through noon Monday. Hunters must check their bear in at one of those checkpoints within 12 hours of getting it.