Lawmakers propose bear hunting to reduce population

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

There have been two bear attacks in Seminole County in the past four months and now some state lawmakers want to allow hunters to help reduce the bear population.
 
Recently Terri Frana spoke with Channel 9 about being mauled by a bear at her home in Lake Mary.
 
In December, several bears were killed after Susan Chalfant was attacked while walking her dog in Longwood.
 
New signs in the area warn residents to be "bear aware," but some lawmakers and homeowners believe it's not enough.
 
Wildlife officials said many of the bears in the area are used to humans and used to finding food in the neighborhoods.
 
State Rep. Jason Broeder from Sanford sent a letter signed by a dozen lawmakers proposing select bear hunts in specific areas to reduce the growing population and to reduce the number of dangerous encounters with neighbors.
 
Some of those living along Markham Road said that it may be time for a hunt.
 
"Outside of trying to secure my garbage, I don't know how else to keep the separation," said resident Fran Kipp. "I think controlling the population would help too."
 
Broeder is also calling on waste management companies to provide bear-proof trash cans and is working to find the funding to teach homeowners how to co-exist with the bears, without making them feel so at home.

Representative Mike Clelland said he doesn't believe bear hunting season is the best plan.

"I think it's a little bit of a knee jerk reaction," Clelland said.

Clelland said the state should make the penalties tougher on people feeding bears and not be quick to pull out guns.

"I can't imagine us with rifles hunting bears between neighborhoods. It could only add to the public safety issue that I think is an issue now," Clelland said.

Resident  Debbie Gunther agreed with Clelland.
 
"Do not kill the bears. Relocate them. Do not kill the bears. Can't we trap the people who are feeding them? Can we have open season for that?" Gunther said. 

An FWC spokeman said there can be a controlled hunt without putting the bears back on the threatened species list.