August 31, 2010
Black Bear Problems in Florida Could Prompt a Bear Hunt
By Chad Love
From this story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune:
It was not too long ago that Florida was desperate to save the black bear. The species lost so much habitat and became so heavily hunted in the 1950s the animals were almost never seen. Decades later, it looks like the state may have done too good a job. The black bear population has exploded, forcing the animals out of the wilderness and increasingly into contact with humans.
The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported that a black bear showed up in Weston, prowling gated communities and city streets before wildlife officials hit it with a dart at a busy intersection. Another visited Universal Orlando and hung out at the Hard Rock Hotel's pool until it was captured. Road kills and complaints of bears in garbage have soared, particularly north of Orlando, where a booming bear population is bursting out of the Ocala National Forest. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has drafted a bear management plan that attempts to grapple with all the issues raised by the resurgence of a species that can reach 600 pounds and has a taste for garbage, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The plan calls for setting up local resident groups to work out bear issues; reducing those killed on roads; establishing wilderness corridors to reconnect shrinking, genetically isolated bear populations along the Gulf coast with larger ones inland; and -- most controversially -- considering whether Florida should reopen bear hunting, banned in 1994