Posted January 19, 2012
BEARS ARE BACK?
By Sam Rogers
The Florida Wildlife Commission has issued the following news release which is excerpted in part. For residents of the Point, Florida's growing bear population is an ongoing concern, indeed a matter of contention for residents whose property has been trashed and damaged by their relentless search for food. From past experience, it seems feeding activity increases as the weather warms. Your "Down to the Point" newsletter will kick off the 2012 new year with another comprehensive how-to article on ways and means of legally reducing feeding opportunities for bears. As frightening and frustration as the problem is, intentionally harming bears is illegal under Florida law.
News Release from the Florida Wildlife Commission
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291
After dwindling to as few as 300 bears in the 1970s, the Florida black bear population has rebounded to an estimated 3,000 bears today. Bears and their cubs roam forests and swamps from Eglin Air Force Base in the Panhandle to Ocala National Forest in the state's midsection and Big Cypress National Preserve in Southwest Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which worked with its partners to increase the state's black bear population, today released a new draft management plan for the bear and is asking for public input. Both a summary of public feedback and the draft plan will go before the Commission at its February 2012 meeting.
"The Florida black bear is truly a conservation success story. Bear populations have clearly benefited from broad public support and diligent conservation efforts across Florida, particularly in those communities where black bears have become more common," said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. "We welcome the public's thoughts on how to best continue our bear conservation efforts in the future, as both our human and bear populations expand."
The goal of the draft management plan is to "maintain sustainable black bear populations in suitable habitats throughout Florida for the benefit of the species and people." It includes measurable objectives regarding bear populations, habitat, citizen education and outreach, and human-bear conflicts.
The Florida black bear currently does not meet the criteria of being at high risk of extinction, based on the FWC's Biological Status Review on the species completed in early 2011. When a bear management plan is approved, the bear will no longer be on the state's list of threatened species. A similar process was followed for the bald eagle, which is no longer listed as a state threatened species but is carefully managed through specific conservation measures established under an FWC management plan.
The FWC is seeking public input on the draft bear management plan. The open process will include four public workshops: Bristol (Nov. 22), Naples (Nov. 29), Deland (Dec. 6), and Gainesville (Dec. 13). Go toMyFWC.com/Bear to access workshop details, read the plan and comment online.