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Your Bear Management Unit (BMU) – The East Panhandle BMU

Map of Bear density ranges based on East Panhandle Florida

The East Panhandle Bear Management Unit includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties and contains the Apalachicola subpopulation, named after the Apalachicola National Forest.  The plan’s objectives  for the East Panhandle BMU are to maintain the current bear subpopulation with the necessary habitat to support them, create forested connections with the West Panhandle and Big Bend BMUs, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths, and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 411 to 653 bears lived in East Panhandle subpopulation. In 2015, the FWC estimated there to be an average of 1,060 bears in the East Panhandle BMU.

The Florida Black Bear Management Plan called for the creation of Bear Stakeholder Groups for each of the seven bear subpopulations. These groups are made up of local residents, government officials, non-profit organization staff, FWC staff, business owners, property managers, and other interested individuals in the East Panhandle BMU. The Group meets several times a year to discuss bear management and research.

Are you interested in being a part of the Bear Stakeholder Group?  Email us at: BearPlan@MyFWC.com

East Panhandle BMU Statistics

Bear Mortality

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 East Panhandle BMU can be seen in the associated chart.

Figure 1. This bar graph shows the number of bears killed by either road, management, illegal, harvest, or other causes of death in the East Panhandle BMU from 2010 to 2019, totaling 969 bears.

2010 = 74 bears (56 road, 4 management, 10 illegal, 4 other), 2011 = 65 bears (55 road, 5 management, 5 illegal), 2012 = 92 bears (80 road, 6 management, 5 illegal, 1 other), 2013 = 63 bears (52 road, 7 management, 3 illegal, 1 other), 2014 = 98 bears (72 road, 15 management, 8 illegal, 3 other), 2015 = 235 bears (81 road, 33 management, 1 illegal, 6 other, 114 harvest), 2016 = 90 bears (58 road, 14 management, 9 illegal, 9 other), 2017 = 105 bears (65 road, 29 management, 5 illegal, 6 other), 2018 = 89 bears (73 road, 7 management, 3 illegal, 6 other), 2019 = 58 bears (47 road, 3 management, 5 illegal, 3 other)

Figure 1: Number of bears killed by all known causes from 2010-2019, by year
Figure 2: The number of East Panhandle BMU bear related calls, and percentage of core and non-core complaints received by FWC from 2010 to 2019, by year

Bear related calls

Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. Over 25% of the statewide bear-related calls each year come from the East Panhandle BMU. This chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the East Panhandle BMU.

Figure 2. This bar graph shows the number of East Panhandle BMU bear related calls, and percentage of core and non-core complaints received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2019, totaling 9,510 calls.

2010 = 898 calls (57% Core, 43% Non-Core Complaints), 2011 = 591 calls (46% Core,54% Non-Core Complaints), 2012 = 1,036 calls (48% Core, 52% Non-Core Complaints), 2013 = 1,009 calls (55% Core, 45% Non-Core Complaints), 2014 = 1,015 calls (49% Core, 51% Non-Core Complaints), 2015 = 1,216 calls (53% Core, 47% Non-Core Complaints), 2016 = 1,171 calls (50% Core, 50% Non-Core Complaints), 2017 = 1,072 calls (49% Core, 51% Non-Core Complaints), 2018 = 841 calls (42% Core, 58% Non-Core Complaints), 2019 = 661 calls (47% Core, 53% Non-Core Complaints)

Core complaints are conflicts, whereas non-core complaints are interactions that could be positive or negative.

Reasons for calls

Figure 3 Caption: This pie chart shows the reason for East Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2019, totaling 9,510 calls.

In Garbage (brown slice) = 37%; General Interaction (light blue slice) = 33%; Sick/Dead Bear (dark green slice) = 13%; Property Damage (orange slice) = 9%; Bear-Animal Encounter (yellow slice) = 3%; Miscellaneous (light grey slice) = 2%; Public Safety Incident (light green slice) = 1%; Illegal Activity (dark blue slice) = <1%; In Structure (dark grey slice) = <1%

Figure 3: The reason for East Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from 2010 to 2019