Home / Top Story / Hunters kill 200 bears in a day as Florida lifts shooting ban

Hunters kill 200 bears in a day as Florida lifts shooting ban


Target: A black bear, seen here in a file photo.

Target: A black bear, seen here in a file photo. Photo: AP

Washington: Hunters gunned down more than 200 bears in Florida this weekend, when the US state lifted restrictions on shooting the creatures for the first time in two decades.

More than 3200 people ventured out with shotguns, bows, pistols, revolvers and crossbows to participate in the statewide bear “harvest”.

The Stop the Florida Bear Hunt campaign stages a protest in downtown Jacksonville.

The Stop the Florida Bear Hunt campaign stages a protest in downtown Jacksonville. Photo: AP

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission had set a maximum of quota of 320 black bears for the cull that was due to last all week.

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But, by the end of the first day, on Saturday, 207 bears were registered as having been killed and officials were forced to end the hunt in some parts of the state.

The agency said it had issued the hunting permits because the black bear population had surged to more than 3000, up from just a few hundred in the 1970s, and presented a safety problem.

Thaddius Way takes a selfie with Rebecca, left, and Rachel Faullin, right, dressed as bears for The Stop the Florida Bear Hunt campaign protest in downtown Jacksonville.

Thaddius Way takes a selfie with Rebecca, left, and Rachel Faullin, right, dressed as bears for The Stop the Florida Bear Hunt campaign protest in downtown Jacksonville. Photo: AP

The commission has received thousands of calls from Floridians logging nuisances caused by the bears, such as the raiding of rubbish dumpsters in the past two years.

But it has registered only four serious incidents of bear attacks against humans.

Animal rights activists reacted in fury to the agency’s decision.

Chuck O’Neal, an activist with the Speak Up Wekiva conservation group, tried to try to block the cull by filing a lawsuit, claiming the state had used unsound science, but lost in court.

The hunt rules prohibit killing any bears with cubs, but Mr O’Neal said he had reports of six lactating females being brought in.

“It means she was nursing cubs,” he said.

Activists manned the checkpoints where hunters were required to register their kills, so they could monitor the cull.

“Yesterday was a horrific day of watching these incredible creatures be slaughtered,” Laura Bevan, southern regional director of The Humane Society of the United States, said.

On Sunday, environmental groups pleaded for the hunting to end, arguing that the actual total number of killed bears was higher than the tally counted.

They said the agency should include in its count the orphaned cubs that would most likely die after hunters shot their mothers.

Telegraph, London; Los Angeles Times



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