Final tally in October's bear hunt: 304, including 36 mother bears


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But the hunt won't help stop those attacks. Eason said the state is "not likely to see much impact in that at all" from the hunt. He said the goal was only to control the growing population of bears, although state officials don't know exactly how many bears there are.

Before the hunt they estimated the population at 3,300, but Eason said Thursday that the success of the hunt suggests it might be 5,000 or more.

Bear hunt opponents had urged the wildlife commission not to allow a hunt until biologists could say how many bears there are in Florida. The last statewide census occurred in 2002, and an effort to update those numbers won't be complete until next year.

Commissioners voted to proceed anyway, despite overwhelming public opposition. Of the 40,000 calls, letters and e-mails sent to commissioners before their vote this summer, 75 percent of them urged the commissioners to vote no on bringing back the bear hunt.

Wildlife agency officials have not decided yet on holding another hunt in 2016, but environmental advocates are hoping to make sure there's no repeat of this year's event.

1Richard Sajko of Valrico, FL talks about how he killed one of the two bears on the back of his pickup truck at the first Florida Black Bear hunt in 21 years at the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area near Lake Mary Florida. (Saturday, October 24, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA | Times

 

2Hunter Byan Smith covers his 457lbs bear to prevent the meat from spoiling after FWC biologists did their measurements and samples during the first Florida Black Bear hunt in 21 years at the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area near Lake Mary Florida. Bryan Smith's bear weighed in at 457lbs. (Saturday, October 24, 2015.) [Photo Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA | Times

3A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission bear contractor who wished to remain unnamed and an FWC bear biologist take measurements of a bear Oct. 24 at the Rock Springs Run Wildlife Management Area near Lake Mary. LUIS SANTANA | Times

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