TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Wildlife officials say an analysis confirms Florida’s black bear population is “robust and growing.”

Dr. Joseph Clark of the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Tennessee studied the data collected by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2015. Clark estimates there are 4,030 bears in Florida, which is lower than the estimate of 4,350 reported in preliminary findings in March.

The wildlife agency said Thursday that black bears have rebounded under protection, growing from just a few hundred bears statewide in the 1970s.

Executive Director Nick Wiley says the agency’s focus remains on “responsibly balancing the needs of black bears with the safety and well-being of Florida’s families and communities.”

Last October, 304 bears were killing during the state’s first bear hunt in 20 years.

 

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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