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New scientific estimates confirm Florida bear populations are large and growing

News Release

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Media contact: Susan Smith, 850-528-1755; Tammy Sapp, 850-228-1353

Recently completed scientific estimates of black bear populations in Florida
indicate the statewide population is now 4,350 adult bears. This new population
estimate reflects how conservation measures have propelled the growth of Florida bear
populations from the 1970s level of 300 to 500 bears to their abundant status today.

Extensive field surveys completed in 2015 and rigorous scientific analysis show
strong growth in adult black bear populations in all three bear management units
(BMUs) studied — West Panhandle, East Panhandle, and South BMUs. Survey work in
2014 also showed significant increases in bear populations in the North and Central
BMUs.

A comparison of 2002 and 2015 estimates indicates bear numbers nearly
doubled in the East Panhandle BMU with populations now estimated at 1,080 bears. In
the South BMU, the population increased 64 percent to more than 1,150 bears. In the
West Panhandle BMU, bear numbers increased 75 percent and are now estimated at
140 bears.

“The survey work in 2014 and 2015 clearly shows Florida has large and growing
bear populations,” said Dr. Thomas Eason, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “This effort is the most extensive and scientifically rigorous bear population survey ever
undertaken in Florida. It provides accurate estimates for all lands within the five recently
surveyed BMUs and confirms that bears are one of Florida’s greatest conservation
success stories.”

For a Florida bear management unit map, visit http://MyFWC.com/bmu/.



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