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Florida's bear population continues to grow

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission releases new estimates

[Image: Florida Fish and Wldlife Conservation Commission]
[Image: Florida Fish and Wldlife Conservation Commission]

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A new scientific estimate of the black bear population in Florida shows around 4,350 living in the Sunshine State.

The estimate reflects how conservation measures have propelled the growth of Florida bear population from the '70s level of 300-500 bears to their abundant status today.

A new analysis show strong growth in the black bear population in all three management units studied, west panhandle, east panhandle and south bear management units (BMU).  A 2014 survey shows increases in bear population in the north and central BMU’s.

Comparing 2002 to 2015 estimates show bear numbers have nearly doubled in the east panhandle BMU with an estimate of 1,080 bears. In the south BMU, the increase is up to 64 percent to more than 1,150 bears. In the west panhandle BMU, numbers have increased 75 percent to around 140 bears.

“The survey work in 2014 and 2015 clearly shows Florida has large and growing bear populations,” Dr. Thomas Eason, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said. “This effort is the most extensive and scientifically rigorous bear population survey ever undertaken in Florida. It provides accurate estimates for all lands within the five recently surveyed BMUs and confirms that bears are one of Florida’s greatest conservation success stories."