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 estimated there to be an average of 1,230 bears in the Central BMU.
In March 2014, FWC held seven public meetings in the Central BMU in the cities of Longwood, Umatilla, Ocala, DeLand, Fort McCoy, Palatka, and Gainesville. At the meetings, participants and staff had open discussions about bears and bear management in Central Florida. Using an application process, the more than 400 attendees were narrowed down to be a part of the Central Bear Stakeholder Group (BSG). BSGs are comprised of local businesses, waste service providers, law enforcement, FWC staff, residents, and government officials from cities, counties, and the state. BSG meetings will continue into the future being held several times a year.
Missed the public meetings but still want to be part of the Bear Stakeholder Group? Email us 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 chart represents the reasons people call FWC about bears in the Central BMU.
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.