207 Bears Were Just Killed ... For No Clear Reason At All

UPDATE: Florida's first bear hunt in 21 years, which was supposed to last until October 30, was called off by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Sunday, after just two days of hunting killed 295 bears across the state.

People around the world are baffled about why 207 black bears were killed in Florida on Saturday.

"[I]f a buck comes out, I'll shoot it, and if a bear comes out, I'll shoot that," a Florida man told the Tampa Bay Times about the controversial bear hunt that started Saturday. "It's the first time Florida's done it in what, 20 years? So I figured why not?" A bear "would be a nice thing to have."

Why this sudden bear slaughter, after two decades of peace?

Banned since 1994, the hunt has been permitted to start again so Florida can supposedly manage its bear population. But some people point out the state doesn't even have an up-to-date count of what exactly that population is: The latest statewide tally, according to one columnist, occurred 13 years ago.

For this hunt, which will last through October 30, the state -bear-hunt-207-killed-on-first-day-7351694">sold more hunting permits than there are even bears to hunt - 3,778 permits were sold to hunt an estimated 3,100 black bears existing in the region.

After yesterday's bloodbath of 207 bears, that number has been sorely reduced. Up to 320 bears will be killed by the time the hunt ends. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel "the hunt was timed so the youngest bear cubs would be 8 or 9 months old," supposedly old enough to survive without their moms. The first bear killed was a still-lactating mother bear, according to the BBC.

There's no explicit reason why the bear hunts have been permitted, according to a columnist at Florida Today, who wrote, "[n]o one in state government has a clear answer" as to why the ban was suddenly lifted.

Whatever the reason, it's not good enough to justify the taking of so many lives.