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Florida Preps for First Statewide Black Bear Count in 12 Years

Florida wildlife officials are getting ready for a count survey of the state’s black bear population.

In 2002, Florida wildlife officials estimated the state’s black bear population at around 3,000.

In the past year, there has been a steady rise in reports and sightings of black bears in Florida’s residential zones, leading state wildlife officials to think the black bear population has significantly grown in the last 12 years.

“The frequency of phone calls, the frequency of sightings, there’s just a lot more out there,” Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesman Greg Workman told WESH.com. “We’re hoping to prove our hypothesis that the bear population has greatly increased since 2002,” Greg Workman, Florida Fish

RELATED: “He’s back…” Florida black bear returns after 90-mile relocation.

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will set up 200 counting stations in wooded areas throughout the state to tally the black bears.

Surrounded by barbed wire, the counting stations will use bait such as donuts to lure in black bears.

RELATED: The old donut-bait trick didn’t fool this clever Pennsylvania black bear. 

The count survey will also help wildlife agencies determine which regions of the state are best suited for bear relocation.

“We want to know that the area we’re relocating these bear to, that we’re not over-saturating the area. We want to know there’s capacity left,” said Workman.

Last month, Florida lawmakers proposed a statewide bear hunt. Supporters of the proposed hunt claim it will help reduce the state’s burgeoning black bear population. Opponents of the hunt argue that residential developments are encroaching on black bear populations, leading to more black bear sightings in neighborhoods.

How do you think Florida should manage their black bear population?

Florida Preps for First Statewide Black Bear Count in 12 Years