No More Bear Hunt In Florida Until 2019

Apr 20, 2017

It will be 2019 before Florida holds another bear hunt.

That’s how the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Wednesday.

The state agency agreed instead to re-examine the state’s bear management plan over the next two years.

"A hunt is consuming. It is consuming to this agency all the way around. And the benefit that we get with this species at this moment at this time, I don’t know if it’s worth the consumption that our team is going to go through," said Brian Yablonski, the commission’s chairman.

Commissioners considered hours of public testimony. It was mixed. Some argued against bending to a survey showing some 43 percent of Floridians oppose bear hunting.

“We know the science supports a bear hunt. Thirty-one states in this country have a bear hunt," said Newton Cook is executive director of the United Waterfowlers of Florida. "And what do you do? The culture. If you believe that, that number will change from 43 percent in the next year, two years, three years, four years. You don’t believe that. You’re smarter than that.”

A hunt in 2015 was the state’s first in two decades. The animal was removed from the state’s threatened list in 2012.