The East Panhandle Bear Management Unit includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties and contains the Apalachicola subpopulation, named after the Apalachicola National Forest. The plan’s objectives for the East Panhandle BMU are to maintain the current bear subpopulation with the necessary habitat to support them, create forested connections with the West Panhandle and Big Bend BMUs, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths, and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 411 to 653 bears lived in East Panhandle 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.
FWC will hold public meetings and government briefings to start up the East Panhandle BMU in Spring 2014. Please check back frequently for meeting dates.
Vehicle strikes account for the majority of bear deaths in Florida statewide. The number of bears killed by vehicles, or euthanized due to vehicle injuries, documented each year in the East Panhandle BMU can be seen below.
Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. Over 25% of the statewide bear-related calls each year come from the East Panhandle BMU. The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the East Panhandle BMU.
The following pie charts represent the reasons people call FWC about bears in the East Panhandle 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.