After a 20-year ban, Florida may bring back bear hunts to control a growing population of black bears that is increasingly seen as a menace in suburban neighborhoods.
Four people have been injured in bear attacks in Florida since 2012, mostly in the central part of the state built on former bear habitat near the Ocala National Forest.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, meeting on Wednesday in Jacksonville, plans to discuss reopening bear hunting season as a way to manage the population, which animal rights advocates oppose as unnecessary and unpopular.
Most encounters between people and bears result from homeowners leaving food out in the open, enticing bears to come into their neighborhoods, the state wildlife agency said in a report describing the current situation.
"A hunt will not solve the problem. People can solve it," said Laurie Macdonald, director of the Florida chapter of the Defenders of Wildlife.