Some Florida lawmakers are calling for a controlled bear hunt after two recent high-profile bear attacks.
WTVC reports that 12 Florida state lawmakers have sent a letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s executive director Nick Wiley asking him to consider a controlled bear hunt in regions of the state where bears are concentrated in residential areas.
“What I’m concerned about mainly is that this continues to happen without intervention and the bears walk up on children who are playing and drag them off into the woods,” said State Representative Jason Brodeur.
Brodeur was alluding two recent bear attacks that made national headlines. The first occurred back in December when Susan Chalflant, 54, was mauled by a young black bear while walking her dogs. Chalfant sustained several severe injuries to her face in what state officials have called the worst attack in the state’s history.
The second incident occurred earlier this month when Terri Frana, 45, encountered a few hungry bears her home’s garage. One of the bears dragged Frana by her head out of the garage. Frana managed to escape, but sustained moderate to severe injuries to her head and body.
Florida black bears were listed as a threatened species in 1974, but their numbers have since surged. In 1974, there were less than 300 black bears in the state. Today, state biologists estimate there are 3,000 bruins roaming Florida.
As for the proposed controlled bear hunt, Fish and Wildlife director Wiley said that he’s considering the lawmakers’ suggestions.
Other state lawmakers and wildlife advocates are saying that a controlled bear hunt shouldn’t be part of the management plan. They’re arguing that the problem isn’t the state’s bear population, but rather how people are interacting with bears. Either way, both sides believe bear safety education and more bear-proof containers in neighborhoods are important steps to preventing future attacks.
Do you think Florida should have a controlled bear hunt to reduce their bear population?