FWC says controversial bear hunt will resume next year


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Despite multiple protests and angry emails, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says it plans to resume the state's controversial bear hunt next year. 

Diane Eggeman, director of Hunting and Game Management Division, told the Sun Sentinel on Oct. 26 that the commission is expected to continue with bear hunting.  "It's our intent to have a hunt annually," she said. "Everything is on the table at this point. We're going to assess how the hunt went."

The hunt ended early last Sunday after the expected quota of 320 bears was nearly met in just 48 hours. Hunters killed 298 bears. Despite a few violations, the FWC considers the 2015 hunt to be a great success. 

From the FWC's post-hunt statement: 

"Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law enforcement officers investigated criminal violations ranging from underweight bears and taking or attempting to take bears by baiting. In addition, FWC officers addressed a few out-of-season harvests and hunters without permits. Proactive enforcement efforts are ongoing. Overall, hunters exhibited good safety and ethics. Compliance with hunting regulations was high." 

Bear hunt opponents, though, are not buying the FWC's positive spin. They say that during the hunt, many of the bears that were shot were lactating females, and that the FWC handed out far too many hunting permits – there were practically 10 permits issued for every bear estimated to live in the state. 

Members of Stop the Florida Bear Hunt have not given up fighting the FWC over this hunt – they are continuing to gather evidence that the hunt was improper and unnecessary, and they're gearing up for a campaign to keep it from taking place again next year. You can follow them on Facebook here. Floridians United to Save Our Bears, meanwhile, is continuing to pursue its case against the FWC in court.