FAQs: Florida black bears and hunting

Is it legal to hunt black bears in Florida?

Yes, a regulated, limited bear harvest taking place in certain areas of the state in late October 2015 was approved at the June 2015 FWC Commission Meeting.

What is the bear population in Florida?

The best scientifically valid population estimates indicate at least 3,000 bears statewide.

Subpopulation Data Collection Period New Estimate (Date)
 Big Bend  Summer 2007, 2009 – 2010 <20 (2011)
 Glades/Highlands  Summer 2010 –2012 165 (2014)
 Ocala/St. Johns  Summer 2014 1,297 (2015)
 Osceola  Summer 2014 550 (2015)
 Eglin  Summer 2015 80 (2002)
New Estimate due Summer 2016
 Apalachicola  Summer 2015 600 (2002)
New Estimate due Summer 2016
 Big Cypress  Summer 2015 700 (2002)
New Estimate due Summer 2016


Is the Florida black bear considered a threatened species?

The Florida black bear is not a State-designated Threatened Species.  The Florida black bear had been listed as a State-designated Threatened species from 1974 to 2012. Successful conservation of the Florida black bear was confirmed by the FWC’s 2011 Biological Status Review, which reported the bear was no longer at a high risk of extinction.  The Commission approved a Florida Black Bear Management Plan and two rule changes to confirm the removal of the bear from the list of State-designated Threatened Species. In 2012, the bear was removed from the rule designating State Threatened Species (F.A.C. 68A-27.003) and a new rule was enacted (F.A.C. 68A-4.009) that maintains it is illegal to sell bear parts or injure or kill a bear, with certain exceptions (bear hunt, depredation permit) and that FWC will continue to comment on land use changes affecting bears.

Will hunting bears end human-bear conflicts?

No. Hunting is used to attain wildlife population objectives, such as slowing population growth rates, rather than to resolve conflict issues. Hunting is one of many tools that can be used in concert with others to meet bear management objectives. Hunting can relieve pressure on bear populations in certain areas, which could reduce the amount of bears in suburban and urban areas. However, all states that allow bear hunting also have human-bear conflicts. Whenever bears and people live near each other, conflicts are possible as bears seek out human food sources like garbage, bird seed and pet food. The most successful way to reduce human-bear conflicts is to secure items that attract bears into neighborhoods.

FWC Facts:
Black bear cubs are very small at birth, weighing only 8 to 15 ounces, which is the size of a small squirrel.

Learn More at AskFWC