State wildlife officials will take some time to review the first bear hunt in 21 years — shut down Sunday night quicker than they expected — to make adjustments before the next one.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials, who acknowledged Sunday that the agency “underestimated the hunter success for the first day,” said a number of scenarios from the planned week-long hunt — cut down to two days — will have to be factored into future planning.
Black bears hadn’t been hunted in Florida for 21 years and they’re relatively naive about being prey. The weather was ideal for hunting over the weekend. There was an abundance of hunters, and some went out ahead of time to scout for bears. The population of bears —- the state expects to have updated statewide projections next year — has been growing.
“We’re going to take all the information from this year, and take a look at it, and consider everything we’ve got, and learn as we go, and consider how to adjust the management for the future,” said Diane Eggeman, commission director of hunting and game management.
The commission has been pursuing other methods of reducing human-bear conflicts for years, such as getting more communities to require bear-proof trash containers. But state officials remain adamant that the hunt is a “management tool” for the increasing bear population, estimated around 3,000 in Florida.
Opponents, who called the hunt a “disaster” for the state’s recently threatened black-bear population, said the commission should limit who is allowed back in the field for future hunts and better define future targets.
Chuck O’Neal, director of the Seminole County group Speak Up Wekiva, which failed earlier this month to persuade a circuit judge to block the hunt, said the agency needs to first determine if the hunt “adversely impacted” the state’s black-bear population.
“I can’t see any point of this hunt being successful by any means,” said O’Neal, whose group has filed suit challenging the commission’s ability to approve bear hunts. “The 320 quota was supposed to be over in seven days. How can they rejoice over that? It’s just one spin after another.”
O’Neal said the state needs to impose a lottery system to limit the number of hunters, prohibit female bears from being killed, increase the minimum weight limit of bears that can be killed from 100 pounds to 200 pounds and prohibit anyone who killed a bear in this year’s hunt from being able to get a permit for a future hunt.
A total of 3,778 bear-hunt permits were issued at a cost of $100 to Florida residents and $300 for out-of-state hunters.
Each permit allowed a hunter a single kill.
The sales brought the agency more than $376,900, which will be used to reduce human-bear conflicts.
The hunt was ended Sunday night with 295 bears having been reported killed, 25 fewer than the targeted statewide quota.
“When we started this, we started with harvest objectives that were very conservative and very mindful that we are doing this for the first time in 21 years,” said commission Executive Director Nick Wiley. “There are uncertainties. But we put many good buffers in place, because it was those uncertainties and we’re still very confident we’re within those sustainable limits.”
Fish and Wildlife officials said Sunday that though the projected one-week hunt went quicker than expected, the numbers remain within the 10 percent “harvest” objective.
“From biological sustainable population perspective, none of these numbers are worrying to us,” said Thomas Eason, director of the commission’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “We have large, resilient growing bear populations.”
Most of the bears killed in the hunt were taken Saturday in the East Panhandle and Central Florida bear-management regions, which were both closed to hunters on Sunday.
The state divides Florida in to seven bear management units. Four with the largest bear populations were opened to the hunt.
Officials had used a 2002 estimate of 600 bears living in the East Panhandle region to set a quota of 40 bears. That area includes the northwestern Big Bend area to west of Apalachicola Bay. With 112 bears reported killed as of Sunday in the East Panhandle, Eason said that’s a sign that there are more bears in the woods.
Eason also noted that hunters were reported to have been scouting for bears in the East Panhandle prior to the start of the hunt.
Other areas where the hunt was allowed were the South region, which includes Broward, Collier, Hendry, Lee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties; the Central region, which includes the St. Johns River watershed to the Ocala National Forest; and the North region, which goes from Jacksonville west to Hamilton and Suwannee counties.
As of Sunday night, 21 bears were reported killed in the South region and 23 in the North region.
Wiley noted that in the South region, Big Cypress National Preserve was closed to bear hunting and a number of large private land owners had not opened their land to hunters.
“That’s a factor that I believe does figure, just availability of places to go, that figures into this,” Wiley said.
Commission Division of Law Enforcement Maj. Craig Duval said officers issued two citations Saturday.
A hunter in the East Panhandle region was issued a citation for killing a cub that weighed just over 40 pounds. To prohibit the killing of cubs, the rules for the hunt required targeted bears to weigh more than 100 pounds.
The other citation went to a hunter in the Central region for using bait to lure a bear.
The penalties in both cases are second-degree misdemeanors if the hunter is a first-time offender.
A warning was also issued to a hunter in the Central region for killing an 88-pound bear, while investigations are underway into other cases of baiting bears.
Several hunters were also found hunting without their permits. Duval said those hunters were “educated” on the law that requires hunters to carry their permits.
Duval said there were no reports of hunters being injured.
–Jim Turner, News Service of Florida
A Mom says
awful, terrible, appalling, dreadful, frightful, horrible, horrendous, horrific, horrifying, shocking, sickening, unspeakable, abhorrent, heinous, abominable, foul, vile, odious, repulsive, repellent, unsightly, revolting, gruesome, grotesque, monstrous, ghastly;
What a crock, the penalty for slaughtering a cub and baiting is a tap (not even a slap) on the wrist. What amazing sportsmen these people are, how proud they should be of their prowess, baiting an animal so it can be shot dead and killing an infant. The fact that these are misdemeanor offenses proves the point that the whole system is rigged to protect the murders and has nothing to do with wildlife management. I’d like to know if the culprits were allowed to keep their trophies. After all what macho-person wouldn’t want to mount the child head of a 40 lb cub and smoke a few cigars in celebration?
I believe in karma and my only solace in this whole sickening scheme is knowing that all involved, murders and those who sanctioned the massacre, will encounter similar horrors as somehow nature and fate has a way of evening the playing field.
This is disgraceful… Instead of the 2nd Amend reading the right to bear arms shall not be infringed… it should read the right to arm bears shall not be infringed. I wonder how many manly man hunters would venture into the woods knowing it was a fair fight?
piece of garbage says
What a cruel thing to show everyone. Killing a BEAR is inhuman regardless of their reason. Oh a pig was killed by a bear a chicken was killed by a bear. They were gonna get kilt anyways. The bear got some free food and didnt have to go dig in your garbage can. That is a reason to do this to those beautiful creatures. God have mercy on their souls. Hideous.
There’s too many people in Florida. Eventually the black bear will go the way of the
Florida Panther because of the devastation that the “superior beings” wreak on their
Greed and blood-lust are the hallmarks of current-day Florida. Buckle up and sit tight.
Better yet – sell and get the hell out. This way you can tune in to Flaglerlive from a healthy
distance and scratch your collective heads.
You can follow the “I’m so glad I left Florida threads.” See the one below.
Good for the state it made money for conservation
kevin said it all
@ a mom. . . you’ve said it all! Our horrific legislature. . . bought and paid for by the NRA. . . has allowed a hunt that is nothing short of criminal!
These animals should have been relocated, not MURDERED! And before anyone starts with the cost of relocating wild life. . . I say, use the tax money given to massively profitable professional sports teams!
Obama 2015 says
I love animals and seeing one dead really bothers me.
Even when I see roadkill it’s sad to see the demise of a living thing getting run over and over and over.
Regarding the Bears, unfortunately this needs to be done (with deer also) to control the population, but it needs to be done correctly and you really can’t trust some people to follow the rules.
I think it would be better to have the Florida Wildlife Officers to handle the bear hunts in the future.
I understand two hunters received warnings for killing a 40 lb and a 90 lb bear respectively. In other words, they killed cubs and just received warnings.
David S says
All of the comments are exactly how we feel this is a complete disreguard for an animals life FWC and those hunters you should be ashamed of yourselves period.
I see no shortage of customers at the meat sections of Publix.
Some people hunt and shoot their own meat. Others hire paid assassins to supply them with meat.
So unless you are a strict vegetarian why are you complaining about the hunt. Where do you think your steaks, chops, ribs and fish come from??
David B says
I went hunting both days, but I didn’t bag one, but we got a nice size Buck.
Obama 2015 says
The hunt was not done correctly, so it has nothing to do with meat. Also calling Tyson Chicken or Boars head assassins is a little over the top.
Hunters killed protected animals when they should not have. They should be fined big time. I mean if you make a right on a red incorrectly it costs you $150 dollars but if you use a firearm and kill a protected animal you may get nothing? I am not a strict vegetarian but if your going to do a protection hunt you can’t allow the wild west and you have to enforce the rules.
But if someone shoots a 88 lbs bear I don’t believe 12lbs should send someone to jail if they did it within the rules.
Florida Wildlife Officers and intelligent hunters should be given this opportunity if it will help the population.
The assertion that it is OK to slaughter “wild” animals because many are raised on ranches and sold for human consumption is lame at best.
Listened to or read the news lately? We should ALL be doing our research and rethinking the whole idea of consuming large quantities of red meat!
The World Health Organization has finally declared cured and preserved meats such as bacon, hot dogs and sausage to be almost as carcinogenic as tobacco and asbestos. . . and all red meats (beef and pork. . . also lamb and goat) are right behind. . . this from the NY Times:
The latest cancer report from the World Health Organization provides persuasive evidence that eating meat can cause cancer. . ..
A research arm of the W.H.O., known as the International Agency for Research on Cancer, concluded in a paper published on Monday that processed meats, like bacon, ham and hot dogs, are a cause of colon cancer and conceivably of stomach cancer, although that link has not been pinned down. This is because processing the meat by curing, smoking, fermentation or other methods generates chemicals that are carcinogens or suspected carcinogens.
The agency also said that red meats like beef and pork are probably a cause of colorectal cancer and possibly a cause of pancreatic and prostate cancer.
The agency found “sufficient evidence” (not just a weak association) that processed meat can cause cancer, but the risk from smoking is many orders of magnitude greater, according to Dr. John Ioannidis, the chairman of disease prevention at Stanford University. “I think it’s very important that we don’t terrorize people into thinking that they should not eat any red meat at all.” Diets high in processed meat cause about 34,000 cancer deaths globally, the agency calculated.
October 9, 2014 — Maryam S Farvid, a visiting scientist and Takemi fellow at Harvard School of Public Health, was first author on two recent studies that found that young women who ate higher amounts of red meat had a higher risk of breast cancer.
Q: How strong of a link did you find between eating red meat and increased breast cancer risk?
A: We found that women who ate the most red meat in adolescence or early adulthood had an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life. One serving a day increment in red meat intake during adolescence was associated with a 22% higher risk of premenopausal breast cancer and each serving per day increment during early adulthood was associated with a 13% higher risk of breast cancer overall. Those who ate more poultry during the same period had a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
DO just a little research on the internet and you’ll find study after study showing the connection of consuming red meat to higher risks for all kinds of cancers and other terrible diseases! Give me a plate of wild caught fish, organic chicken, veggies and fruits any time!
I agree Sherry. What has really concerns me is that lot of folks are shocked by the WHO study and announcement. I first read “Don’t Bring Home The Bacon” by F Jacobson in 1973. The book explains what nitrites, nitrates and erythrobates do to the body. I’ve been hearing the stuff about red meat since the late 50’s when my dad had a heart attack. So, it’s not news anymore but good to see it put in print by the WHO. As of 1/1/16, Panera Bread’s menu will be totally preservative free. Here is their no-no list: https://www.panerabread.com/panerabread/documents/panera-no-no-list-05-2015.pdf
I can see limited hunting of deer and other plentiful small game, but not bears, they’re aren’t enough of them yet. We buy but not hunt our meat. Plenty of organic chicken, beef and pork available now. I get my bison from Whole Foods. Unfortunately, the best source of wild salmon locally is in a can. Most farm raised salmon is full of PCBs and other harmful chemicals. Just try and explain that to Publix. But that’s another story.