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Statewide Abundance 2014-15

Florida Black Bear Populations

West Panhandle = 120 bears (50% increase)
East Panhandle = 1,060 bears (86% increase)
North = 500 bears (92% increase)
Central = 1,200 bears (17% increase)
Big Bend = 30 bears
South Central = 100 bears
South = 1,040 bears (49% increase)
Statewide Total = 4,050 (53% increase)

*Percent increases based on comparing 2002 and 2014/2015 Florida black bear populations. Comparisons not available for Big Bend and South Central bear management unit populations, which were surveyed in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

In 2014 and 2015, the FWC estimated the abundance (number of bears) of the five largest black bear subpopulations in Florida. Researchers used hair corrals to survey the Eglin, Apalachicola, Osceola, Ocala/St. Johns, and Big Cypress subpopulations. Read more about how researchers use hair corrals to estimate bear abundance.

Bear subpopulation estimates ranged from 120 bears in the Eglin subpopulation to 1,200 bears in the Ocala/St. Johns subpopulation. View the publication resulting from this study. When added to the estimate recently completed for the Glades/Highlands subpopulation and an estimate for the Chassahowitzka subpopulation, the total population estimate for the state was over 4,000 bears. A comparison to the 2002 abundance estimate indicated that the statewide bear population increased by about 50% in a little over a decade.

Repeated estimates of bear abundance allow FWC researchers to measure trends in Florida’s bear population size. The state-wide survey provided information that is critical to the successful management of bears in the largest bear subpopulations. The next state-wide survey of bear abundance is planned to begin 2023.

Results of this study were published in Humm, J. M., J. W. McCown, B. K. Scheick, and J. D. Clark. 2017. Spatially explicit population estimates for black bears based on cluster sampling. Journal of Wildlife Management 81(7):1187-1201.

Abundance Study

As part of a study to estimate bear abundance in Florida, researchers set up remote cameras at some of the 273 hair snares used to collect bear hair in central and northern Florida.