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Use Caution when driving in Bear Country
Black bear habitat is intersected with highways and roads. While searching for resources including food and mates, bears often cross busy roads. Many make it across, but others are struck and killed. Bears cause greater damage to cars than even deer and can cause serious injury to drivers and passengers alike.
Vehicle collisions are responsible for 90% of the known bear deaths. Bears are most active around dusk and dawn, and therefore more accidents happen during this time than any other.
Efforts to reduce vehicle-bear collisions are wide ranging, include wildlife underpasses, posting warning and slower speed limits in frequent roadkill areas and providing information at rest stops and tourist information areas.
To avoid collisions with all wildlife, be alert and drive slower around dawn and dusk, in heavily wooded areas, areas with low lighting or visibility, and areas marked with warning signs.
Vehicle collisions with bears have increased steadily since data collection first began in 1976.
Many factors contribute to this increasing trend, some of which include:
- Increasing human populations and development
- Increasing bear populations,
- Increasing traffic volumes and speeds, and
- Fragmenting wooded areas which cause bears to cross roads more frequently.
The impact of this increasing trend differs depending on whether the bar populations are also increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable.
FWC has completed several studies to determine the impact vehicle collisions have to Florida's bear populations. One study identified principal roadkill areas within the state. Principal roadkill areas are identified as those areas which have 3 or more bears killed by vehicles within a one mile area over a 3 year period.
While most of the vehicle-bear collisions occur around the Ocala National Forest, they can happen on many roadways throughout the state. When you are driving through areas where bears may be present, be extra cautious and obey any posted advisories.