It’s not quite open season on bears in Florida, but come October, hunters will get one week to hunt some of the state’s estimated 2,500 bears. And property owners who secure a “depradation permit” will have authority to shoot bears all year, once the animals have been determined to be a nuisance by causing property damage, or if electric fencing and other protective measures have failed. Florida will become the 33rd state that allows bear hunting in one form or another.
The rules will apply in four geographic regions of the state, including FWC’s Central region, which includes all of Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties. The largest concentration is in Ocala National Forest, where some 1,000 bears roam, and occasionally wander into Flagler. A number of counties in the south-central, Gulf and far-western Panhandle will remain closed to hunters. Residents can secure a hunting permit for $100, non-residents for $300. Hunters will be limited to one bear kill per season. The likely week for hunting will be Oct. 24-30.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the new rules at its meeting at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee Wednesday, as opponents and proponents of the rules made their case to commissioners, and after the proposal received upward of 1,000 comments online, by phone call and by mail. Opponents favored more humane tactics like a degree of accommodation or, at worst, sterilization, as they spoke of an environment that was bear territory first, not human territory: FWC estimates there were some 11,000 bears at the time the state was first invaded by colonists, who exploited and hunted the animal indiscriminately.
Proponents of hunting, including the National Rifle Association, cited the need for more “management” of the animal, and protection of property.
The commissioners asked its staff to continue the educational approach to help people understand how to live with bears in ways that minimize conflicts.
“Education is key. We know that bear feeding is an issue, so we need to continue to be proactive and responsive with our efforts,” said FWC Chairman Richard Corbett. “Properly securing garbage and other attractants is the single most important action for reducing conflict situations with bears.”
Hunting bears wasn’t prohibited until 1974, by which time the state’s bear population had fallen to between 300 and 500. Even then, hunting was permitted to continue in three of Florida’s 67 counties. That window closed in 1994. By 2002, the statewide population was estimated to have risen to 3,000, and in 2012 the bear was removed from the threatened list. But as Florida’s human population soared, so did conflicts, or perceived conflicts, with bears.
The hunting season timing would coincide with high bear activity and before denning begins. FWC says cubs would be old enough to be independent. This timing was chosen to avoid overlap with deer-dog hunting or training seasons. Methods of take would include bows, crossbows, muzzleloading guns, rifles, pistols, revolvers, and shotguns, with restrictions on these the same as for deer hunting. But both hunter and bear must be more than 100 yards from a game feeding station, and dogs may not be used in the hunt.
The four proposed geographical zones where hunting would be allowed contain the state’s largest bear populations, which include all three national forests and the southern-most portion of Florida. The proposal applies to public and private land. The season may end sooner in any given bear management unit if the “harvest” objective for that zone is reached. The overall target for total kills is 200.
Depredation permits would authorize a landowner to remove bears if they are causing property damage, and protective measures like electric fencing have failed or are not feasible, and FWC staff has been unable to trap the bear within 4 nights. Depredation permits would not be issued in cases that do not meet these criteria or when the safety of surrounding residents may be an issue
The animal will also no longer be referred to as the “Florida black bear.” State documentation will remove the word “Florida” from all references.
“Bear populations have grown over the last 15 to 20 years. It is our responsibility to manage these populations, and hunting is an important and effective tool to help us do so,” Corbett said.
Karen Wagner Dempsey says
James H Clair says
Damn shame ! Man has invaded the territory of so many of these wild creatures and our answer for everything …….is to eliminate them……….
The problem bears are in neighborhoods not the forest, where hunting will be. By saying that the hunt will help out the number of bear incidents in neighborhoods is a lie said to allow the hunt. I am not against control of the population but this will not solve the problem they have sold it on. Want to control the bear population in neighborhoods educate residents, we attract them with what we put in our yards and trash.
Mari Mayer Mishaan says
Dave Wettlaufer says
Brandi Jones Bennett says
Makes me so sad.
Bon Bell says
Sad will NOT cut it…we have to STOP this. Contact Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission • Farris Bryant Building
620 S. Meridian St. • Tallahassee, FL
32399-1600 • (850) 488-4676
Thank you for the info I already called them and were close at 5.45…tomorrow I call at 8 am. These bozos approving bear hunting! Give the bears a break, take away their habitat and now shoot them cause the come for food?
Mary Gabriel says
Susan Wesley says
Ok contact your legislatures and tell them to ban bear hunting. In politics and law everything can change with enough pressure. Don’t just be sad, mad and complain, do something.
Karen Wagner Dempsey says
Sherri DiLeonardi says
I just read this article and its a shame these creatures have to be assassinated. It’s not right. Move them to the Ocala National Forest for goodness sake.
Shawn Eberhardinger says
Yea let’s just ban hunting all together. … the money from the permits will help,they are limited to one bear per season and only have a week to get a bear, the odds are in the bears favor . It’s a hunt not a massacre. …. if wildlife management recommends it then there is probably a good reason but you know we all know how to do their jobs better then they do right…..
Bon Bell says
Thank you NATIONAL RIFLE ASSN ! wrong…wrong…wrong!!
Jon Hardison says
Someone needs to arm the bears and give them a permit to shoot nuisance people. This is bull crap!
Maria Pugliese says
Correct! The human race is the real nuisance here!
Shawn Eberhardinger says
Bears are territorial you can’t just put them all in the Ocala national forest
Just a thought says
We did something like that to the Native Americans.
Derek Royer says
Definitely gonna buy a permit.
Derek Royer says
Soul less, really! Wow go hug a tree
Shyvonkia Tomlinson says
Relocate them all where guys? The Everglades? Maybe your backyards.
Amber Horn says
Maybe if people hadn’t taken all of their habitat it wouldn’t be an issue. How about we start preserving their habitat and teach people how to co-exist with them. But that would cut into land sale and building profits, and we all know that greed outweighs every thing else. Hey, Florida… take a lesson from states that have lots of bears. Educate people about bears, and living with them, instead of killing animals that are right where they are supposed to be. After all, we’re trespassing on their territory… not the other way around.
Shannon Melendez says
Shawn, although I respect your opinion I must say that your last comment says more than you intended. ” Bears are territorial you can’t just put them all in the Ocala national forest”. We are invading their territory! We build where they live and it’s their fault? We destroy their homes and habitat to build ours and they are the problem? When will we see that WE are the problem? When will we take accountability for our part in the problem? We destroy their land to build ours, take away their natural food resources and the answer now becomes it’s the bears fault so now we must kill them!
Jon Hardison says
…We have a momma bear and one cub that run around here on garbage nights. The ONLY homes that get hit are the ones that don’t tie up their garbage bags well enough. I know this because one of my neighbors has his garbage tossed all over the lawn ever now and then. I’ve cleaned it up for him once or twice and even met the bear a few times while doing it. He just tosses food into the bin with no bag at all. Everyone on our street gets hit, between the bears and raccoons. Everyone but us (unless my kid does the garbage).
How is it that we can do and build so many amazing things, but keep a bear out? I can see it now: In 200 years we’ll be begging Canada to loan us some bears to restart our population. Just like Wolves and every other thing we thought was a pain in the ass.
Our cruelty and stupidity are mind boggling.
my neighbors complain about the raccoons but they continue to leave their garbage out at night.
My garbage doesn’t go outside until the morning of.
I purchased my home near the woods to see the wildlife, not hunt it. I think it’s disgusting. Next they’ll let these morons hunt dear in their yards because they’re eating their flowers.
Toby Santangelo says
Fish Game and Wildlife do studies. Its not like they say- “let there be bear genocide” at the drop of a hat. Sometimes Protected species have to be kept in check, and then repopulated. Poachers so more damage.
Adriana Wozniak says
their other ways to do this like they do with cats .fix the mother bear clip the ear so you know that bear can not have little bears ,,not every female but 7 out of 10 fix them in the long run you have them under control.we people took land away like the towncenter her in Palm Coast and other area,s,now in Oktober we got to watch out for the hunters not the bears.
Donald Meuer says
I don’t feel it’s needed.
Shawn Eberhardinger says
The hunting season will be at the time of year when cubs have matured so the baby wouldn’t die, try reading the entire article
Shawn Eberhardinger says
And neutering females would eventually lead to inbreeding,like i said I think wildlife management knows how to manage wildlife
Stephen Bubba White says
For ALL that think we’ve infringed and took away from the Bears habitat should tear down there house and plant a few trees for more bear habitat and move outa florida.. Maybe that will fix the problem!!
Sarah Jones says
Not cool PC
Jack Fields says
People the population has grown. If it gets to large ul wind up with a bunch of sick Bears. Let’s ban pork chops, T bones, fried chicken and lamb chops . O and don’t 4 get all them po little fishes u eat.
Kim Provenzano says
The bears have every right to be here just as we do. Why cant humans learn to coexist with our creators creatures. The human species is over populated… should we hunt people…..
Derek Dragojevic says
If everyone from the northeast living in PC would move back up north, then maybe we wouldn’t be “infringing on the bear’s habitat”. The black bears aren’t the only ones who think there are too many who don’t belong here… I agree that the FWC knows what it’s doing. Deer and hogs are overpopulated – why can’t the bears be?
So sad. We take away their habitat and now we can murder them. Humans truly suck.
Randa Adams says
Ican’t even comment on this
Anyone ever hear of the Timucua tribe? My grandmother on my fathers side of the family was one of the very last of the tribe to have remained here in it’s native Florida. Most were ravaged by the Eurasian diseases brought here by settlers. The 25 % or so that remained was then reduced to about 2.5% of its original size through flat out murderous warfare. The few that remained were carted off to Oklahoma and combined with what remained from other tribes. They were later ran off of that land as well. Those were human beings. My grandmother’s family hid deep in wooded areas for a couple of generations and she married a farmer who’s family had fled from the Georgia prison colony which were derived of English and Irish debtors. My grandmothers family lived at peace with those bears.
@ Footballen; You sure should be proud of your ancestry. Was rewarding to read about your Grandma and that they lived and shared this wonderful land with those bears too. Is sad to learn one more account of the abuses and misery that European settlers brought to our native men, women and children.
But at least after generations we have you, to tell us how was then and move us to keep alive the Timucua people’s remembrance and respect. http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/lessons/timucua/timucua1.htm Thank you!
This is racist.
You Betcha ……That is why Sarah Palin only shoots Brown Bears in her native Alaska….. When she not having the cops called out to her house that is!
David B. says
A few years ago we had open season for alligators for population control., Then we had it for deer after Hurricane Andrew went through South Florida, because the deer were starving. Nobody complain, Now they want to control the black bear population, to actually aid the black bear existence , and many are against it. Does the black bear have more say so then the alligators or deer ?. Scratching my head on this one.
Could be worse:
I amm so sick about this that ruin my dinner. We are the invaders not the bears. This is BS. Lets call the legislators in Tallahassee and Wild Life Mismanagement too. Now we are slaughtering bears too. Give the bears a break! We took their habitat and now cause they come back for food we shoot them. Idiots no compassion!
These dudes with weapons also give their wrong influence to their male children as just was reported in our HIA that one member witnessed a couple of ten rascals using their bb guns within home backyards to shoot an innocent squirrel dead! If I had witnessed that I call the cops on those young killers. We are talking C section of Palm Coast. Now I am going to have one of these killers shooting our beras when the show up around our homes? Better I don’t catch one red handed. Call our legislators and the Wild Life Management to ban the October hunting…pleaaase. Sorry my misspells but I am typing at over 70 years of age really mad about this license to kill our bears!
You should call me! We’ll do what our Dads would have done. Made the kid gut, skin, cook and eat the squirrel. Only problem he might like it. I sure did.
Is this what this barbarians allow now? http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=17b_1414358982
Mike D says
” THE BEARS “
It’s the human population that has become uncontrollable and a nuisance. So people can shoot bears because they are “trespassing” and damaging property? Why? Humans are just as dangerous and yet we are given every chance in the world to appeal our convictions. Is it because we are bipedal? Because we have thumbs that allow us to grip a pen to write our languages down on paper? Because we have the power to destroy what is lovely about the world we’ve been blessed to live upon? We humans will always walk towards danger while animals have a sixth sense when Mother Earth is about to wreck havoc and can be seen fleeing to safety. As evidenced by many videos captured during planetary events, the animals are always fleeing while humans gawk with their selfie sticks. If an animal is running North, so am I. If a human is running North, I’m going South. We so easily discount life that is not of our species (some discount that as well) that if there is a creator, I would hate to be the one to explain that I took a life for sport, that I lured one of his creations to me with promises of safety only to kill it and put its head on my wall.
Please e-mail to: [email protected], if you oppose this coming October bear hunting license to save our bears. I was told in the 850-488-4676 Wild Life Management that the Commissioner is still discussing the issue in meetings. Call Senators Bill Nelson, Mica.or any other you know.
In Florida today there’s 20,000,000 people. TWENTY MILLION.
Within the next ten years you can expect the population to double to
Notice the road expansions such as I-95 in Jax. The next phase of the FL
population explosion is planned and expected – they’re banking on it.
The corrupt Florida government and the developers will wipe out those pesky
deer, bears and box turtles. (to name just a few)
Too bad they can’t just wipe out the palmetto bugs.
You won’t need to worry about “nuisance animals” in the near future.
“Nuisance humans” will convert this whole state into a concrete jungle very soon.
Forty million angry, hot and frustrated residents paying stratospheric water bills.
Flamingo photos and extinct manatees (“speed bumps” in boater parlance).
That’s the future of Florida.
Meanwhile let’s go shoot Winnie-the-Pooh, Yogi, and Gentle Ben.
We can get an early start wiping them out! Let’s take their habitat and shoot ’em for fun!!!!
It’ll make you manly and compensate for your “shortcomings.”
I’ll keep referring to my neighbors…hate raccoons, deer eat their flowers, armadillos tear up their lawn etc etc
Why did they move here if they wanted Philadelphia?
Although I haven’t seen any bears yet in my neighborhood I’m sure they’re out there.
I’d take precautions and limit my dogs’ activity outside if I knew thy were out there. I wouldn’t leaves garbage cans out there to entice them either.