State bear poaching penalties stiffen

Lawmakers crack down on black bear poachers


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida House has moved to stiffen penalties on killing black bears.

It’s already illegal to kill black bears in the state, but wildlife advocates said the current law did not do enough to prevent poaching.

As it stands, the penalties for hunting turkeys and deer out of season is more severe than killing a bear.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission said under current rules, killing a black bear can result in a $500 fine, with the possibility of 60 days in jail for a first offense. Recurring offenses can lead to a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, as well as the suspension of recreational hunting and fishing licensing privileges.

At one time, the number of black bears in Florida had dropped into the low hundreds, prompting the listing of the animal as a threatened species.

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