FWC to set up bear count for Central Florida

200 bear research sites set for updated bear count


Wildlife officers are setting up 200 bear research sites, dangling jelly doughnuts from barbed wire, hoping to collect bear hair.

"Our data is out dated so this will get us back to where we need to be," said Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Greg Workman, talking about the two-year, $500,000 population project that will have researchers DNA testing bear hair caught in snares set up across Central Florida.

There are currently 3,000 black bears on the books, but that count was done over a decade ago.

"The frequency of phone calls, frequency of sightings, we feel as if there are a lot more," said Workman.

Wildlife officers say they planned the new survey before two Central Florida women were mauled in their neighborhoods.

They hope a new count will help with bear management.

"We want to know the areas we are relocating these bears to, that we're not over-saturating the area, we want to make sure that there's still capacity left if not, then we really need to research and find other areas to relocate the bear," said Workman.

Officers hope to have result by the summer of 2015.

Until then, researchers will continue to bait and collect data from the snares.