The FWC approved the Florida Black Bear Management Plan  in 2012 to conserve the state’s largest land mammal. The 10-year plan calls for the creation of seven Bear Management Units (BMUs) across the state.
 
A BMU is a geographic location bounded by county and/or state borders with one of the seven Florida black bear subpopulations within it. The goal of a BMU is to provide a defined area within which FWC can have a community-focused effort to effectively manage and conserve Florida black bears.
 
FWC will engage with a Bear Stakeholder Group (BSG) within each BMU in order to manage black bears based on the local bear and human populations and receive public input on managing and conserving bears within the BMU.
 
A Bear Stakeholder Group (BSG) is a core group of government officials, members of the public, landowners, non-profit organizations, partner agencies, and businesses in a specific BMU. The BSG will meet multiple times a year to work collaboratively with FWC staff to address bear issues in their BMU. 
FWC began launching the BMUs in October 2013 with the West Panhandle BMU, followed by the Central BMU in March 2014, East Panhandle BMU in April 2014, and the South BMU in June 2014. FWC hosted multiple public workshops and government briefings where local government partners and residents provided input on bear issues they were experiencing and ideas on how to reduce conflicts.

FWC will host the North BMU and South Central BMU government briefings and public workshops (6:30 pm – 8:00 pm) in September and October 2014 as follows:

North BMU
  • Macclenny – September 30th – Baker County IFAS Extension Office, 1025 West Macclenny Ave.
  • Lake City – October 1st – Columbia County School Board Auditorium, 372 West Duval St.
South Central BMU
  • Sebring, October 7th – Highlands County IFAS Extension Auditorium, 4509 George Blvd. 
  • Lakeland – October 8th – Circle B Bar Reserve, 4399 Winter Lake Rd. 
  • Punta Gorda – October 9th – Charlotte Harbor Event Center, 75 Taylor St.

FWC will hold public workshops and government briefings in the Big Bend BMU in fall 2014, please check back frequently for meeting dates.

If you are unable to attend a meeting but still would like to join a Bear Stakeholder Group, please contact staff at BearPlan@MyFWC.com

Explore the map to learn more about your BMU and how you can get involved.

BMU Map West Panhandle East Panhandle North Central Big Bend South Central South

Please watch for notice of meetings about your BMU and how you can get involved. You also can sign up for GovDelivery External Website, a new service available through MyFWC.com allowing you to receive automatic emails and/or text messages with FWC news and information on this and other topics.

 

Each BMU will be managed to meet specific goals related to bear subpopulation size, potential habitat, human-bear conflicts, and potential threats, such as vehicle related mortality (i.e., roadkill).

Bear at campsite

The following graphs will allow you to compare how your BMU stacks up against the other six BMUs.

In 2002, FWC estimated the statewide bear population at 2,705 to 2,941 bears.  In the chart below, you will see the lower and upper population estimates for each BMU, along with the average number of bears displayed to the right.

Estimated Population

Potential bear habitat are areas with characteristics that make them more likely to have bears living there.  As the name implies, however, potential bear habitat is not necessarily occupied by bears.  The four characteristics of potential bear habitat are: 1) land cover type (e.g., forest vs. urban), 2) habitat size, 3) distance from high quality habitats, and 4) connectivity and size of large habitats across the landscape.  See the following pie chart for the potential acreage available in each BMU.

Potential Habitat

FWC receives thousands of bear-related calls from people each year.  Some of the calls are positive or neutral in nature, such as reporting a sighting of a bear in the area. Other calls may be more serious, like a bear accessing unsecured garbage. FWC staff offer advice to callers to try to resolve the issue being raised.  The next pie chart demonstrates how many calls each BMU has received between 1990 and 2012.

Bear Related Calls By BMU

The final goal to be addressed is potential threats to a bear subpopulation.  As you can see in the pie chart below, vehicle related deaths (i.e., roadkill) were substantial in two of the BMUs.

Roadkill By BMU



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