A total of 207 bears were killed Saturday, and 86 more on Sunday, bring the total to 293. The statewide quota was 320 allowed for the planned week-long hunting season – the first in 21-years. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said 139 were killed in Central Florida alone.
According to the FWC: ALL bear management units are now CLOSED to bear hunting, and the 2015 Florida bear hunt has concluded.
The FWC set up 33 check-in stations around 4 Bear Management Units where hunting is allowed. Every bear hunter with a harvest had 12 hours to present the carcass to wildlife agents, who updated the total each night.
“We started this with harvest objectives that were very conservative and very mindful that we were doing this for the first time in 21 years, and there were uncertainties,” Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, said today at a press conference.
“The harvest objective was set as the number we want to achieve to stabilize the growing populations,” FWC’s Susan Smith said. “When we set them, we did so with allowable range, recognizing that the harvest may exceed the objective.”
FWC officials said they had no reported injuries to any of the 3,778 hunters who paid for permits to hunt a bear. Black bears have rebounded from their low point in the 1970s, when just a few hundred remained, today, the population is thought to top 3,000.
“None of these numbers are worrying to us,” said Thomas Eason, according to the Orlando Sentinel, a wildlife biologist nicknamed “Dr. Bear” who serves as director of FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “We have large, resilient, growing bear populations.”