The Central Bear Management Unit includes Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, and Volusia counties and contains the Ocala/St. Johns subpopulation, named after the Ocala National Forest and St. Johns River watershed. The Central BMU is the only BMU with a subpopulation estimated at 1,000 bears, which is one of the criteria that determines a species’s risk for extinction. The plan’s objectives for the Central BMU are to maintain at least 1,000 bears with the necessary habitat to support them, maintain forested connections with the North BMU and within the Central BMU, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths, and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 825 to 1,225 bears lived in Ocala/St. Johns subpopulation. In 2014, the FWC will begin the multi-year process of updating subpopulation estimates. More details can be found in the bear management plan.
FWC will host the Central BMU public meetings (6:30 – 8:00 pm) in March 2014 as follows:
- March 4, Longwood (Seminole County) at Markham Woods Church, 505 Markham Woods Rd.
- March 6, Umatilla (Lake County) at Olde Mill Stream RV Resort, 1000 N. Central Ave.
- March 11, Ocala (Marion County) at Howard Middle School, 1655 N.W. 10th St.
- March 18, DeLand (Volusia County) at City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.
- March 19, Fort McCoy (Marion County) at VFW Post #1020, 23498 N.E. Hwy 314
- March 20, Palatka (Putnam County) at Ravine Gardens State Park, 1600 Twigg St.
- March 25, Gainesville (Alachua County) at City Hall, 200 E. University Ave.
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
Vehicle strikes account for the majority of bear deaths in Florida statewide. Over half of the statewide bear deaths caused by vehicle strikes each year occur in the Central BMU. The number of bears killed by vehicles, or euthanized due to vehicle injuries, documented each year in the Central BMU can be seen below.
Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. Over half of the statewide bear-related calls each year come from the Central BMU. The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the Central BMU.
The following pie charts represent the reasons people call FWC about bears in the Central BMU. The charts are in four year increments to show how the reasons have changed over time.
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.