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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

Bar graph of bears killed by all known causes in the West Panhandle BMU from 2010 - 2018 (n = 204)

This bar graph shows the number of bears killed by vehicle strikes in the West Panhandle BMU from 2000 to 2018, totaling 204 bears.

2010 = 23 bears, 2011 = 13 bears, 2012 = 15 bears, 2013 = 18 bears, 2014 = 23 bears, 2015 = 32 bears, 2016 = 29 bears, 2017 = 25 bears, 2018 = 26 bears

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.

Bar graph of the total bear related calls received in the West Panhandle BMU from 2010 - 2018 (n = 8,371)

This bar graph shows the number of West Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2018, totaling 8,371 calls.
2010 = 979 calls, 2011 = 490 calls, 2012 = 769 calls, 2013 = 1,107 calls, 2014 = 714 calls, 2015 = 796 calls, 2016 = 1,054 calls, 2017 = 1,425 calls, 2018 = 1,042 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.

Pie chart of the reasons for calls in the West Panhandle BMU from 2010 - 2018 (n = 8,152)

This pie chart shows the reasons for West Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2017, totaling 8,371 calls.

General Interaction (light blue slice) = 49%; In Garbage (brown slice) = 31%; Property Damage (orange slice) = 9%; Sick/Dead Bear (dark green slice) = 5%; Bear-Animal Encounter (yellow slice) = 2%; Miscellaneous (light grey slice) = 1%; Public Safety Incident (light green slice) = 1%; Illegal Activity (dark blue slice) = <1%; In Structure (dark grey slice) = <1%

This pie chart represents the reasons people call FWC about bears in the West Panhandle BMU.