Florida Black Bear Management Meeting Oct 29

October 23, 2013 by SoWal Staff

Under the Florida Wildlife Commission’s Florida Black Bear Management Plan , approved in 2012, seven bear management units (BMUs) will be established throughout the state. The West Panhandle BMU, encompassing the counties of Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton, will be the first to be created. The BMU approach will allow the FWC to manage bears based on the characteristics of bears, people and habitat in this part of Florida.


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 2014, the FWC will begin the multi-year process of updating subpopulation estimates. More details can be found in the bear management plan.
Meetings open to all residents will be held to allow the public to provide input on local bear issues: (Public Meeting Notice )

  • Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., West Navarre Intermediate School cafeteria, 1970 Cotton Bay Lane, Navarre
  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Northwest Florida State College, Building 8 auditorium, 1170 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Walton Beach
  • Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Coastal Branch Library, 437 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach

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 below.

Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears.  The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the West Panhandle BMU.


The following pie charts represent the reasons people call FWC about bears in the West Panhandle BMU. The charts are in four year increments to show how the reasons have changed over time.



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