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Probably been in the works and not related to the killing of Cecil the lion, but these Florida plaintiffs may feel more motivated and a greater sense of urgency now.

Animal protection groups took aim today at the Florida bear hunt, filing a lawsuit in Tallahassee to stop it.

The plaintiffs, including Lake Mary-based Speak Up Wekiva and Chuck O’Neal of the League of Women Voters, also called on the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to immediately suspend the sale of bear-hunting licenses, scheduled to start Monday at Tax Collector offices and sporting good stores.

The bear hunt, Florida’s first since a statewide ban was imposed in 1994, is set to begin Oct. 24.

The lawsuit, which seeks to invalidate rules allowing the “intentional take” of bears, challenges the constitutionality of FWC’s newly adopted bear conservation rules, including those guiding the hunt. It alleges the new rules are contrary to the agency’s mission to “conduct management, preservation and conservation decision-making based upon sound science.”

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