Yes, We Have Bears In Florida!
Black bears occupied all of the Florida mainland, including some coastal islands and larger keys before settlement by the early Europeans.
The occupied range has been reduced to 6 core areas (Eglin, Apalachicola, Osceola, Ocala, St. Johns, and Big Cypress) and 2 remnant areas (Chassahowitzka and Glades/Highlands).
While bears can be found anywhere in Florida, they prefer a mixture of flatwoods, swamps, scrub oak ridges, bayheads and hammock habitats. We have documented certain areas with constant bear presence. These regions, or subpopulations, are listed below.
The bear distribution map includes primary (green) and secondary (brown) black bear ranges. The area they inhabit in search of food, water, and adequate cover is called a home range.
- A primary bear range is defined as an area that contains a core bear population, habitat that is important to bear movement, and evidence of reproduction.
- A secondary bear range is defined as an area important to bear movement and habitat use, but less optimal than a primary range.