The Central Bear Management Unit includes Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter, and Volusia counties and contains the Ocala/St. Johns subpopulation, named after the Ocala National Forest and St. Johns River watershed. The Central BMU is the only BMU with a subpopulation estimated at 1,000 bears, which is one of the criteria that determines a species’s risk for extinction. The plan’s objectives for the Central BMU are to maintain at least 1,000 bears with the necessary habitat to support them, maintain forested connections with the North BMU and within the Central BMU, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths, and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 825 to 1,225 bears lived in Ocala/St. Johns subpopulation. In 2014, the FWC will begin the multi-year process of updating subpopulation estimates. More details can be found in the bear management plan.
In September and October 2014, FWC held two public meetings in the North BMU in the cities of Macclenny and Lake City. At the meetings, participants were asked to share their experiences with bears and bear management in the North BMU. Participants were also asked if they would like to work with the FWC on a Bear Stakeholder Group (BSG). BSGs are comprised of local businesses, waste service providers, law enforcement, FWC staff, residents, and government officials from cities, counties, and the state. In late 2014, the North BSG began holding meetings to discuss local bear related issues and work collaboratively towards solutions. These meetings will continue into the future being held several times a year.
Missed the public meetings but still want to be part of the Bear Stakeholder Group? Email us at: BearPlan@MyFWC.com
Vehicle strikes account for the majority of bear deaths in Florida statewide. Over half of the statewide bear deaths caused by vehicle strikes each year occur in the Central BMU. The number of bears killed by vehicles, or euthanized due to vehicle injuries, documented each year in the Central BMU can be seen below.
Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. Over half of the statewide bear-related calls each year come from the Central BMU. The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the Central BMU.
The following pie charts represent the reasons people call FWC about bears in the Central BMU. The charts are in four year increments to show how the reasons have changed over time.
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.