4 meetings coming up for public input on managing bears in central Florida
Friday, March 14, 2014
Media contact: Greg Workman, 352-620-7335; Karen Parker, 386-754-1294;
Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) invites the public to participate in four meetings over the next two weeks to discuss conservation and management of black bears in central Florida and how people can get involved. The FWC already has held meetings on local bear issues in Longwood, Umatilla and Ocala.
“We have received great input so far on bear issues in central Florida and look forward to hearing more at our next meetings,” said Dave Telesco, FWC Bear Management Program Coordinator.
Under the FWC’s Florida Black Bear Management Plan, approved in 2012, seven bear management units (BMUs) will be established throughout the state. The BMU approach will allow the FWC to manage bears based on the characteristics of bears, people and habitat in different parts of Florida. First steps are being taken to create the Central BMU to manage bears in central Florida, which includes the state’s largest bear subpopulation in the Ocala National Forest and surrounding areas.
The meetings offer the public a chance to provide input on local bear issues and allow interested individuals to sign up to be active members of the Central Bear Stakeholder Group. Upcoming meetings will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the following locations:
- March 18, DeLand, City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.
- March 19,Fort McCoy, Whiteacre Memorial VFW Post 1020, 23498 NE Highway 314
- March 20, Palatka, Ravine Gardens State Park, 1600 Twigg St.
- March 25, Gainesville, City Hall, 200 E. University Ave.
“We’ve had a great start to our public meeting series,” said Telesco. “Our goal is to work together so people and bears can coexist in central Florida.”
The Central BMU includes Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia counties and is the second BMU being implemented. The West Panhandle BMU was put into action in fall 2013, and the FWC continues to have productive discussions with local governments, partner agencies and residents who live in the area.
Go to MyFWC.com/Bear and look for “Which BMU are you” to find out more about black bears in the Central BMU.
“A guide to living in bear country” is also available at MyFWC.com/Bear by clicking on “Brochures & Other Materials.” You can find more on bears and the bear management plan at MyFWC.com/Bear.