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New data shows increase in bear population

Black bears numbers have more than doubled since last estimate

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced the estimates of the Florida black bear population on Wednesday.

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"This is the most ambitious, extensive and scientifically rigorous bear population survey ever undertaken in Florida," said Nick Wiley, FWC Executive Director, in a release. "This survey work involves a number of partners representing public and private lands; we are grateful for their continued support for effective monitoring and management of Florida's black bear population."

In the north bear management units, the study shows the black bear population estimate is more than 500 bears, more than double the estimate from 2002. In the central BMU, the population estimate is more than 1,200 bears, an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous estimate.

"With bear populations rebounding so strong, we must continue the transition from a protection focus to a management focus to ensure bears continue to thrive in Florida," Wiley said.

The new data for these two BMUs will be used to inform all aspects of the FWC's comprehensive bear management program, including the refinement of harvest objectives for the proposed fall hunt.  Additional BMUs for three additional areas are expected next year.