Trap Set For Broward Bear

Hunters, wildlife advocates argue over solution

State wildlife officials are hoping they're smarter than the average bear, and have set a trap after the third bear sighting in residential Weston yesterday.

The black bear or bears continue to elude Florida Fish and Wildlife, which is working to safely snatch the burly beasts, who are increasingly encroaching on human territory.

Bears used to rule the beaches and forests around the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale areas, but development has nearly wiped out their natural habitats, forcing the bears into populated areas.

There were nearly 3,000 nuisance bear calls last year in the state, up from just 450 in 1998. The three recent sightings were the first reported in Broward County in 30 years.

The 1994 state ban on hunting bears isn't helping matters, some say.

"When we had bear hunting, we didn't have the issue we have today," Mark Dombroski, a Royal Palm Beach hunter and president of the Florida Sportsmen's Conservation Association, told the Miami Herald. "We didn't have as many bear collisions."
Wildlife advocates obviously don't agree.

"We're moving into their territory, so we have to learn how to get along," Laura Bevin, regional director for the Humane Society told the Herald. "If it's not a problem bear, I don't see the need to hunt and kill it."

Since bears remain on the state's protected species list, it looks like the residents of Weston are going to have to hide their pic-a-nic-baskets.

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