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Florida black bears

Linda Stewart, Amy Mercado introduce bills to protect bears, their food and habitat

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As state Rep. Amy Mercado declares, Florida’s now-annual black bear hunt has become a “slaughter.” Mercado and fellow Orlando Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart laid out bills Wednesday to ban the hunts for 10 years, as well as steps to keep bears happy enough in the forests and stop raiding neighborhoods. “The bears, we’ve encroached on their homes,” Mercado said. “They were here first. And a slaughter of the bears is unacceptable.” Mercado’s House Bill 491 and Stewart’s Senate Bill…

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Florida’s bear population abundant, robust and growing, officials say

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There now are an estimated 4,350 bears in Florida with dramatic increases in some areas of the state, wildlife officials said Thursday. That number, included in a new state bear census, led the officials to describe the population as abundant, robust and growing. That Florida black bear census reflects the state’s population before last fall’s controversial first bear hunt in a generation. The bear population estimates will change with numbers from the hunt, said Thomas Eason, habitat and species conservation director for…

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Kate MacFall: Florida’s black bears in hunters’ sights starting Saturday

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Thousands of trophy hunters will descend on Florida’s wilderness to kill an estimated 320 Florida black bears, a unique subspecies of the American black bear that’s found nowhere else on Earth. The state is holding this hunt starting Saturday despite most Floridians’ opposition to it. Nearly 3,000 hunting permits have been sold. Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States, issued this statement: This is a sad day for Florida’s black bears. This weekend, trophy…

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Today on Context Florida: Happy endings, bad reviews, black bears and no joy in Tallahassee

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Today on Context Florida: On Tuesday night, Tom O’Hara heard two attorneys at the heart of the redistricting fight tell a riveting tale that has a happy ending. Dan Gelber, a prominent Florida Democrat, and Ellen Freidin, the woman who is primarily responsible for the state constitutional amendments that guarantee fair districts, told a story about how determined citizens can overcome brute political power. Heather Gibson, who serves as marketing director for the UCF School of Performing Arts, believes it’s critical…

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