The West Panhandle Bear Management Unit includes Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties and contains the Eglin subpopulation, named after the Eglin Air Force Base. The plan’s objectives for the West Panhandle BMU are to maintain at least 200 bears with the necessary habitat to support them, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 63 to 101 bears lived in the Eglin subpopulation. In 2015, the FWC estimated there to be an average of 102 bears in the West Panhandle BMU.
In October 2013, FWC held three public meetings in the West Panhandle BMU in the cities of Navarre, Fort Walton Beach, and Santa Rosa Beach. At the meetings, participants were asked to share their experiences with bears and bear management in the West Panhandle. 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 November 2013, the West Panhandle 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.
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. The number of bears killed by vehicles, or euthanized due to vehicle injuries, documented each year in the West Panhandle BMU can be seen below.
Caption: This bar graph shows the number of bears killed by vehicle strikes in the West Panhandle BMU from 2000 to 2016, totaling 102 bears.
2010 = 16 bears
2011 = 11 bears
2012 = 9 bears
2013 = 15 bears
2014 = 15 bears
2015 = 13 bears
2016 = 23 bears
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 West Panhandle BMU.
Caption: This bar graph shows the number of West Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2016, totaling 5,913 calls.
2010 = 979 calls
2011 = 490 calls
2012 = 768 calls
2013 = 1,107 calls
2014 = 717 calls
2015 = 799 calls
2016 = 1,053 calls
The following pie chart represents the reasons people call FWC about bears in the West Panhandle BMU.
Caption: This pie chart shows the reasons for West Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2016, totaling 5,913 calls. General Interaction (light blue slice) = 46%; In Garbage (brown slice) = 35%; Property Damage (orange slice) = 9%; Sick/Dead Bear (dark green slice) = 5%; Bear-Animal Encounter (yellow slice) = 2%; Public Safety Incident (light green slice) = 1%; Miscellaneous (light grey slice) = 1%; Illegal Activity (dark blue slice) = <1% ; In Structure (dark grey slice) = <1%
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.