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A Statewide Map of Bear Density

Learn more about your BMU and how you can get involved.

The FWC approved the Florida Black Bear Management Plan in 2012 to continue the conservation success of the species. The 10-year plan calls for the creation of seven Bear Management Units (BMUs) across the state.

A BMU is a geographic location bounded by county and/or state borders with one of the seven Florida black bear subpopulations within it. The goal of a BMU is to provide a defined area within which FWC can have a community-focused effort to effectively manage and conserve Florida black bears.

FWC engages with a Bear Stakeholder Group (BSG) within each BMU in order to manage black bears based on the local bear and human populations and receive public input on managing and conserving bears within the BMU.

Bear Stakeholder Groups (BSG) are a core group of government officials, members of the public, landowners, non-profit organizations, partner agencies, and businesses in a specific BMU. BSGs meet multiple times a year to work collaboratively with FWC staff to address bear issues in their BMU.

If you would like to join a Bear Stakeholder Group, please contact staff at BearPlan@MyFWC.com.

Large bear at campsite

Please watch for notice of meetings about your BMU and how you can get involved. You also can sign up for GovDelivery, a service available through MyFWC.com allowing you to receive automatic emails and/or text messages with FWC news and information on this and other topics.

Each BMU will be managed to meet specific goals related to bear subpopulation size, potential habitat, human-bear conflicts, and potential threats, such as vehicle related mortality (i.e., roadkill).

FWC Bear Management Unit Population Model Report 

FWC estimates the statewide bear population to be approximately 4,050 bears. The average number of bears per BMU are outlined below.

Bear Management Unit (Subpopulation) Year Population Estimate Percent Change

West Panhandle (Eglin)

2015 120

50% Increase from 80 in 2002

East Panhandle (Apalachicola)

2015 1060

86% Increase from 570 in 2002

North (Osceola)

2014 500

92% Increase from 260 in 2002

Central (Ocala)

2014 1200

17% Increase from 1,030 in 2002

South (Big Cypress)

2015 1040

49% Increase from 700 in 2002

Big Bend (Chassahowitzka)

2010 30

South Central (Glades/Highlands)

2011 100

Statewide Total

4050

50% Increase from last estimates

The pie chart shows how much potential bear habitat exists in each BMU. Of 16.4 million total acres, the Big Bend BMU has 1.5 million, the South BMU has 1.6 million, the North BMU has 1.6 million, the West Panhandle BMU has 1.7 million, the South Central BMU has 2.5 million, the Central BMU has 3.4 million and the East Panhandle BMU has 4.1 million.

The pie chart shows how much potential bear habitat exists in each BMU. Of 16.4 million total acres, the Big Bend BMU has 1.5 million, the South BMU has 1.6 million, the North BMU has 1.6 million, the West Panhandle BMU has 1.7 million, the South Central BMU has 2.5 million, the Central BMU has 3.4 million and the East Panhandle BMU has 4.1 million. 

Potential bear habitat are areas with characteristics that make them more likely to have bears living there.  As the name implies, however, potential bear habitat is not necessarily occupied by bears.  The four characteristics of potential bear habitat are: 1) land cover type (e.g., forest vs. urban), 2) habitat size, 3) distance from high quality habitats, and 4) connectivity and size of large habitats across the landscape.  See the following pie chart for the potential acreage available in each BMU.

The pie chart shows the percentage of total bear-related calls between 2010 and 2018 by BMU.

FWC receives thousands of bear-related calls from people each year.  Some of the calls are positive or neutral in nature, such as reporting a sighting of a bear in the area. Other calls may be more serious, like a bear accessing unsecured garbage. FWC staff offer advice to callers to try to resolve the issue being raised. The pie chart demonstrates how many calls each BMU has received during the time period noted.

The BMU for bears killed by vehicle strikes in Florida from 2010 to 2018

This pie chart shows the BMU for bears killed by vehicle strikes in Florida from 2010 to 2018, totaling 2,096 bears.

Central (dark green slice) = 52%; East Panhandle (orange slice) = 28%; West Panhandle (yellow slice) = 6%; South (grey slice) = 6%; North (light green slice) = 4%; South Central (dark blue slice) = 3%; Big Bend (light blue slice) = <1%

The final goal to be addressed is potential threats to a bear subpopulation. As you can see in the pie chart, vehicle related deaths (i.e., roadkill) are substantial in two of the BMUs.