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

Map of Bear density ranges based on west panhandle of Florida

The West Panhandle Bear Management Unit includes Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton counties and contains the Eglin subpopulation, named after the Eglin Air Force Base. The plan’s objectives for the West Panhandle BMU are to maintain at least 200 bears with the necessary habitat to support them, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 63 to 101 bears lived in the Eglin subpopulation. In 2015, the FWC estimated there to be an average of 120 bears in the West 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 West 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

West 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 West Panhandle BMU can be seen in this bar graph.

Figure 1. This bar graph shows the number of bears killed by either road, management, illegal, harvest, or other causes of death in the West Panhandle BMU from 2010 to 2019, totaling 225 bears.

2010 = 23 bears (16 road, 3 management, 3 illegal, 1 other), 2011 = 13 bears (11 road, 1 management, 1 illegal) 2012 = 15 bears (9 road, 5 management, 1 illegal), 2013 = 18 bears (15 road, 1 management, 2 illegal), 2014 = 23 bears (15 road, 6 management, 1 illegal, 1 other), 2015 = 32 bears (13 road, 17 management, 2 other), 2016 = 29 bears (23 road, 4 management, 2 illegal), 2017 = 25 bears (15 road, 6 management, 3 illegal, 1 other), 2018 = 26 bears (17 road, 6 management, 1 illegal, 2 other), 2019 = 21 bears (13 road, 4 management, 2 illegal, 2 other)

Figure 1: The number of bears killed by all known causes from 2010-2019, by year
Figure 2: The number of West 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.  The associated chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the West Panhandle BMU.

Figure 2. This bar graph shows the number of West Panhandle BMU bear related calls, and percentage of core and non-core complaints received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2019, totaling 9,547 calls.

2010 = 979 calls (61% Core, 39% Non-Core Complaints),
2011 = 490 calls (50% Core, 50% Non-Core Complaints),
2012 = 769 calls (49% Core, 51% Non-Core Complaints),
2013 = 1,105 calls (42% Core, 58% Non-Core Complaints),
2014 = 714 calls (41% Core, 59% Non-Core Complaints),
2015 = 796 calls (47% Core, 53% Non-Core Complaints),
2016 = 1,055 calls (42% Core, 58% Non-Core Complaints),
2017 = 1,420 calls (45% Core, 55% Non-Core Complaints),
2018 = 1,043 calls (34% Core, 66% Non-Core Complaints),
2019 = 1,176 calls (36% Core, 64% Non-Core Complaints)

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

Reason for calls

Figure 3. This pie chart shows the reason for West Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2019, totaling 9,547 calls.

General Interaction (light blue slice) = 48%; In Garbage (brown slice) = 32%; Property Damage (orange slice) = 8%; Sick/Dead Bear (dark green slice) = 5%; 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 West Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from 2010 to 2019