TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida black bears may become hunting targets in the future, but not now.
Hunting would continue to be banned under a proposed black bear management plan released Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The panel's executive director, Nick Wiley, says that doesn't mean that hunting couldn't be considered in the future.
The commission now will seek public comment before taking final action next year. The management plan is in response to the commission's prior recommendation that black bears be taken off Florida's threatened species list.
The bear population dropped to an estimated 500 in the 1950s, but it has since rebounded. Wildlife officials now estimate Florida has between 2,500 and 3,000 black bears. They are increasingly invading populated areas and becoming a hazard on the state's roads.
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