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With signs claiming "Killing is Not Conservation", protestors fanned out across the state to stop the FWC's planned bear hunt. Scientists have rallied behind protestors claiming more study is needed to determine if there real is a bear problem and if hunting is the solution. (Sign photo by Mike Corradino, bear photo courtesy FWC)
The planned Florida Bear hunt, scheduled for October 16 has been postponed this year by a vote of 4 to 3. Support condemning the Florida Wildlife Commission's plans to hold a bear hunt again this October kept mounting. Protests were held in communities throughout the state to bring attention to the now delayed hunt.

Clermont became the first city to issue a resolution against the hunt for the second year in a row. The Lake County Commission is also considering a similar proclamation.

Clermont City Clerk Tracy Ackroyd Howe had been directed to send certified copies of the resolution to Brian Yablonski, chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission; Speak Up Wekiva Inc.; Florida Gov. Rick Scott; Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner and Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. Those letters were signed and mailed June 16.

Clermont resident Hope Lamb brought the attention to the community last fall prior to the previous hunt in an attempt to get the state to stop the hunt. Lamb made an impassioned plea to the city for help.

Instead, the state has about $825,000 to match with local governments to provide bear proof trash containers and other bear deterrents in those communities that may have a problem.

The hunt last year was intended to thin the population because of complaints that bears were entering communities for food. Opponents have complained, among other concerns, that the hunts were held in areas where the bears aren't a problem.

They also said the state needs more time to study and obtain more scientific data on the bear issue before allowing any more hunts.

Florida black bears were once on the threatened species list when their numbers dropped to as few as 300.

Thomas Eason, director of the commission's habitat and species conservation division, said the state's bear population has made tremendous strides since the 1970s, when there were 300 to 500 black bears in Florida.

Proponents of the bear hunt claim vehicle deaths to bears is on the rise and that sightings of bears was up from 99 in 2000 to 6,094 in 2014. Opponents note that the human population, which has doubled since 1980, and increased encroachment on bear habitat is also a reason for the increased interactivity.

But the number of bear sightings in 2015 was lower, in part, according to the FWC, in the use of bear-proof trash containers.

While there have been some news stories alleging attacks by bears, the official FWC website says there have been no predatory attacks by bears. Most encounters have been accidental.

To learn more about when to do if you encounter a bear go to myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/faqs/.


Florida Wildlife Commission cancels controversial bear hunt as statewide opposition continues to grow
Bear hunt
Bear hunt
Hope Lamb (left), who organized the protest against the bear hunt is joined by former Clermont Mayor Hal Turville (right) and a group of supporters in their attempt to bring awareness to the planned hunt of Florida's black bear. The hunt was canceled this week until further study can be done. (Photo by Mike Corradino)
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