FWC omits bear hunt from its 2020 management plan

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Florida black bear. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Wednesday, Florida Fish and Wildlife released its “2020 Florida Black Bear Management Plan”. There is no bear hunt slated for the coming year.

The goal of FWC’s annual bear management plan is to reduce human-bear conflict. In 2015, 304 bears were killed in two days during the bear hunt.

Homeowners in Southwest Florida are divided about whether that would be a good option in the future.

Many bears are caught on camera rummaging through trashcans, hopping in swimming pools and darting out onto roadways.

A resident of Golden Gate Estates told us bears become a nuisance because they are finding loss of habitat and loss of food sources. And some say they don’t want to see them killed because of this and want to see alternatives to handle the state’s bear population.

“There are more and more humans,” said Sue Pinky Benson in Golden Gate Estates. “And they are not going to get rid of us, so we should not get rid of the bears either.”

Others say, if the population gets out of hand, then maybe FWC should bring back the hunt.

“To me, I think it’s good to keep the population under control,” said Scotland Witt in Golden Gate. “If it gets out of control, I think there should be a bear hunt to try and stabilize everything.”

A Golden Gate Estates resident suggested relocation of bears when needed or a protected habitat.

In the meantime, FWC said it’s working to implement more bear-resistant trashcans and the removal of bears that are threat to the area. FWC is also working to educate homeowners about human-bear conflict.

The search for an alternative to a bear hunt, if population control is needed, still remains. And FWC says bear hunts remain on the table in the future.

“We have to find a way to work together to accommodate everybody in this environment,” Benson said.

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