The vote came after a 10-hour discussion inside a high school gymnasium in the Panhandle town of Eastpoint, Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came to a final vote of 4-3 in opposition of holding the state’s second consecutive bear hunt at around 8:15pm Wednesday evening.
“We have to do what’s best for the bears,” Commissioner Ron Bergeron, an avid outdoorsman said.
Following strong public opposition, last year’s hunt was cut short after hunters had killed 304 of the 321 allotted bears and was halted after just two days. In all, the commission offered four options surrounding this year’s proposed hunting season: to hold a hunt that mirrored last year’s, to ban bear hunting all together, to skip this year’s hunt in favor of more detailed scientific analysis or to hold a hunt, but one that would be extremely limited and broken into three phases.
Despite recommending the hunt earlier in the week, when it was all said and done, commissioners displayed their confidence in skipping the 2016 bear hunt and performing additional studies that would hopefully give the commission the pertinent data they need to make informed decisions regarding future hunts.
In addition to these measures, commissioners also plan to expand garbage-can management plans and habitat protection projects to curb the amount of bear and human-related conflicts.