Current Florida Black Bear Range
The historic range of the Florida black bear likely comprised all of mainland Florida and the upper Florida Keys. Bears experienced a severe reduction in range in Florida through the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent decades, bear range has clearly increased alongside bear abundance.
Early range maps of bears in Florida were based on expert opinions. Today, biologists with the FWC combine sightings from the public and wildlife professionals with systematic sampling from researchers to produce objective, data-driven range maps for bears. Check out the Florida Black Bear Range Mapping Methods page to learn more about how biologists use these data to make range maps.
In 2018, biologists collected over 37,000 bear observations from all 67 Florida counties to create a map of current bear range. The map includes 4 categories of bear occurrence: Frequent range, Common range, Occasional range, and Rare range. The FWC considers Occupied bear range to include both Frequent and Common range; in 2018, bears were occupying 51% of Florida.
Map of 2018 Florida black bear range extent with four levels of occurrence (Frequent, Common, Occasional, and Rare). The seven bear subpopulations are labeled. FWC biologists update this map every few years using data from research, management, and public sightings.