Study: Bear population in Florida 'large and growing'

- A new report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates Florida's population of adult Black Bears at 4,350.

"Extensive field surveys completed in 2015 and rigorous scientific analysis show strong growth in adult black bear populations in all three bear management units (BMU's) studied - West Panhandle, East Panhandle, and South BMU's. Survey work in 2014 also showed significant increases in bear populations in the North and Central BMU's," FWC said in a press release.

“The survey work in 2014 and 2015 clearly shows Florida has large and growing bear populations,” said Dr. Thomas Eason, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Habitat and Species Conservation.

FWC said bear numbers increased by 19% in Central Florida, nearly doubled in the East Panhandle with populations now estimated at 1,080 bears, a 64% increase in the South to 1,150 bears, and a 75% increase in the West Panhandle to 140 bears.

For comparison, according to FWC statistics, there were 300 to 500 Black Bears in Florida in the 1970's. 

"At this time, staff is still collecting and analyzing information. We have not formed any recommendations on another bear hunt," FWC said on Twitter.

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