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Florida ends bear hunt early due to higher-than-expected number of kills

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Florida ends bear hunt early due to higher-than-expected number of kills

Florida’s controversial black bear hunt ended after its second day after a higher than expected number of bears had been killed with 295 bears taken overall, nearing the official limit, Florida wildlife authorities said late Sunday.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted a statement on its agency website announcing that it had closed the 2015 hunt, saying the decision was taken as the hunt was approaching an agency “objective” of 320 bears overall.

“The 2015 bear hunt is officially over,” the statement added.

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” were it was allowed.

Authorities say they weren’t alarmed by the numbers, saying the figures suggest the bear population is higher than they thought. The hunt was approved earlier this year after considerable and contentious debate. Backers estimated Florida’s black bear population had grown to 3,500 — from a few hundred in the 1970s. But opponents challenged those numbers.

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