FWC approves black bear plan | News
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a plan Wednesday to manage long-term conservation for the more than 3,000 black bears living in the state.
The state's bear management plan is credited with a resurgence in the black bear population. In the 1970's there were as few as 300 black bears in Florida.
"The Florida bear population is thriving. That is the success story, but we still have a lot of education to do," FWC Commission Chairman Kathy Barco said. "Everyone loves bears, but not everyone wants them in their backyard. When people call to say, 'Relocate this bear,' we need to help that neighborhood learn the ways to coexist with the bear - take care of your garbage, dog food and bird feeders."
The Florida Black Bear Management Plan encourages the public to partner with the FWC to make bear management decisions locally. Once the plan is implemented it will help the FWC to find solutions to the challenges and problems encountered by each community. Some places have thriving black bear populations while other places are still recovering.
The FWC said some of the concerns the Black Bear Management Plan addresses are:
- Maintain wildlife habitats and corridors on public and private lands that accommodate bears' large home ranges of up to 60,000 acres and allow bears to roam safely.
- Reducing human-bear conflicts, through use of bear-proof cans for garbage and proper storage of birdseed and pet food, which can be irresistibly mouthwatering treats for bears.
- Educating Floridians and visitors about black bear behavior and conservation and how to remain safe if a bear comes into your yard or if you encounter a bear. To find out more, go to MyFWC.com/Bear.
The FWC will create multiple bear management units. Each unit will contain a bear population specific to that unit's location. Additionally, the FWC said it plans to create local advisory groups to help create "Bear Smart" communities.
The Florida black bear is one of 62 species of wildlife that will join animals the FWC already has a management plan for. That includes bald eagles. The new conservation model for Florida's threatened species requires the FWC to create management plans for all species that are state-listed and the plans created must be updated at certain intervals.