The rule means that, although the Florida black bear was removed from the list of State-designated Threatened Species (68A-27.003, F.A.C.) in June 2012, it is still unlawful to injure or kill bears without prior authorization from the Commission. The rule also states FWC will continue to engage with landowners and regulating agencies to guide future land use to be in line with the objectives of the Florida Black Bear Management Plan.
You are not allowed to “take” a bear. The Bear Rule relies on the definition of take in Rule 68A-1.004, F.A.C., which includes pursuing, hunting, molesting, capturing, or killing, or attempting those actions, whether or not such actions result in possession of the bear. In addition to take, Rule 68A-4.009, F.A.C., generally prohibits anyone from possessing, injuring, shooting, wounding, trapping, collecting, or selling bears or their parts or attempting to engage in such actions without prior authorization from FWC.
Violation of the Bear Rule is a criminal misdemeanor, which can result in fines up to $1,000, and/or up to 1 year in jail, and/or the loss of recreational licenses for 3 years for a first offense. Multiple offenses can result in higher penalties, longer imprisonment, and/or permanent suspension of recreational licenses.
FWC does not consider it to be a violation of the Bear Rule to scare a bear off your property by yelling, banging pots and pans, using an air horn, honking a car horn, shooting with paintball pellets, or using bear spray. Please follow the FWC guidelines on how to safely scare a bear from your property. You can also use a motion-sensitive device (e.g., Critter Gitter®, Water ScareCrow®) that displays flashing lights, emits loud noises, or deploys a spray of water when something approaches the device.
The Bear Rule describes situations in which FWC can issue permits to allow the intentional take of bears. For example, the collection of scientific data needed for conservation or management of the species or taking bears that are causing property damage when no non-lethal options can provide practical resolution to the damage, and the Commission is unable to capture the bear. Additionally, Commission Rule 68A-1.004 defines bears as a game species, 68A-9.007 defines the special use bear permit, and 68A-13.004 allows for the opening of a bear hunt.
(1) No person shall take, possess, injure, shoot, collect, or sell black bears or their parts or to attempt to engage in such conduct except as authorized by Commission rule or by permit from the Commission.
(2) The Commission will issue permits authorizing intentional take of bears when it determines such authorization furthers scientific or conservation purposes which will benefit the survival potential of the species or to reduce property damage caused by bears. For purposes of this rule, activities that are eligible for a permit include:
(a) Collection of scientific data needed for conservation or management of the species;
(b) Taking bears that are causing property damage when no non-lethal options can provide practical resolution to the damage, and the Commission is unable to capture the bear.
(3) The Commission authorizes members of the public to take a bear in an attempt to scare a bear away from people using methods considered non-lethal. Staff shall authorize specific methods and situations that qualify for this authorization at http://MyFWC.com/bear/.
(4) The Commission will provide technical assistance to land owners and comments to permitting agencies in order to minimize and avoid potential negative human-bear interactions or impacts of land modifications on the conservation and management of black bears. The Commission will base its comments and recommendations on the goals and objectives of the approved Florida Black Bear Management Plan. The plan can be obtained at MyFWC.com/Bear.