TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The latest on the first bear hunting season in Florida in more than 20 years (all times local):
Florida wildlife officials say hunters killed 298 bears over the weekend during the first legal hunt in the state in more than two decades.
While the total number was 22 bears below the limit of 320, officials on Monday say more could turn up in the next day or two.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s bear biologist Thomas Eason says the hunt went smoothly, but officials were surprised at how quickly the limit was reached.
Officials approved the hunt earlier this year, saying the state’s black bear population had grown too large and attacks on people more common.
The hunt was called off after two days because of how quickly hunters were able to reach the kill cap. The state had scheduled a week.
After just two days, Florida has ended its controversial black bear hunt because a higher than expected number of bears have been killed.
Wildlife authorities said late Sunday that 295 bears were taken overall, nearing the official limit.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted a statement on its website saying it had closed the 2015 hunt because it was approaching an agency “objective” of 320 bears overall.
“The 2015 bear hunt is officially over,” the statement says.
Wildlife officials had already shut down hunting in designated central and east Panhandle regions of Florida after the first day Saturday. The statement late Sunday said additional North and South units were closed to hunting after the second day, meaning hunting had ended in all four “bear management units” where it was allowed.
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