The North Bear Management Unit includes Baker, Columbia, Duval, Hamilton, Nassau, Suwannee, and Union counties and contains the Osceola subpopulation, named after the Osceola National Forest. Bears in the Osceola subpopulation are part of a larger subpopulation that includes bears in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. The plan’s objectives for the North BMU are to maintain or increase the current bear subpopulation with the necessary habitat to support them, maintain forested connections with the Central BMU, and to reduce human-bear conflicts and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 200 to 313 bears lived in Osceola subpopulation. In 2014, the FWC estimates there to be an average of 620 bears in the North BMU.
In September and October 2014, FWC held two public meetings in the North BMU in the cities of Macclenny and Lake City. At the meetings, participants were asked to share their experiences with bears and bear management in the North BMU. Participants were also asked if they would like to work with the FWC on a 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. In late 2014, the North BSG began holding meetings to discuss local bear related issues and work collaboratively towards solutions. These meetings will continue into the future being held several times a year.
If you were 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. The number of bears killed by vehicles, or euthanized due to vehicle injuries, documented each year in the North BMU can be seen below.
Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the North BMU.
The following pie chart represents the reasons people call FWC about bears in the North BMU.
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.