|Florida Nature: American Black Bear|
have been more and more black bear sightings in Florida. According to
the FWC You are more likely to see a panther or a black bear today in
Florida than someone here 40 years ago! There was a total of 2,257 Florida black bear sighting reports as of June 2014, with more than 500 of those reports containing uploaded photographs. Sightings of bears were reported in 59 of the state’s 67 counties.
To report a
sighting contact the FWC.
Protecting the habitat of the wide-ranging black bear benefits many other species that depend on the same habitat type, such as the threatened Florida scrub jay and the eastern indigo snake. For this reason, bears are often referred to as an “umbrella species”. The bulk of Florida's bears occur in six major populations located in the:
Ocala National Forest/ River Basin
Big Cypress National Preserve/Everglades National Park
Apalachicola National Forest
Osceola National Forest/ Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (south Georgia)
St. Johns River corridor Eglin Air Force Base Chassahowitzka, Highlands and Glades counties.
Nearly 20 acres of wildlife habitat are being lost to development every hour in Florida, one of the most rapidly urbanizing states in the nation. To ensure survival of this subspecies, it is critical that bear habitat, adjacent to and serving to link existing public lands, be purchased as public lands or managed by private landowners in a manner compatible with the long-term survival of the Florida black bear.
Approximately 25-50% of all cubs die before they turn one year old. Natural causes of death include drowning, den cave-ins, hypothermia due to flooded dens, starvation, infections from injuries, and predation (by other bears). Road kills are considered the leading known cause of Florida Bear mortality. More than 1,356 bears are documented to have been killed by vehicles since 1976. Well over 100 bears are killed on Florida roads each year, with the record number, 132, occurring in 2002. Once fully grown, black bears have no predators besides humans and other bears. The other causes of mortality are old age, starvation, poaching (Florida has no legal hunting season), other bears, and disease.
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