Posted on 04 October 2012.
by Haley McKey
Fall is finally here, and the change in season is sending Florida Black Bears a message, loud and clear: “eat up while the getting’s good!”
It’s important to the safety of bears and people that they avoid communities and stick to their natural diet of fruit, nuts and acorns.
There’s a great variety of nuts, fruits and seeds in the Florida countryside for bears to snack on (lots of acorns, not to mention the occasional treat of honey and larvae from beehives). But bears instinctively look for the greatest calorie reward for the least effort, at this time of year especially. Unfortunately, in suburban areas that often means pet food and trash.
Fortunately, there’s a great opportunity to learn how to bear-proof your property in Florida this weekend. The Forgotten Coast Black Bear Festival is coming to Carrabelle, Florida on October 6, and will hold workshops on living with bears, along with presentations by bear experts and guided hikes with a bear biologist. There are plenty of fun activities for kids and families too: live music, vendors and exhibits, and a Procession of the Species Parade! Click here to learn more. You can also see some examples of ways to bear-proof your property here.
Making sure we don’t leave items out around our homes that attract bears helps keep both bears and people safe and assures bears are foraging on their natural wild foods. Bear-proofing is a community effort, since just one home with unsecured trash can create risk for the rest of the neighborhood. That’s why festivals and events like the Forgotten Coast Black Bear Festival are important: they bring people together to learn about, as well as celebrate, the unique wildlife they share their state with.
Learn more about what Defenders is doing to help wildlife and people coexist.
Posted in Bears, Features, Florida, Florida black bear, Living with Wildlife
Posted on 28 August 2012.
The Florida black bear was removed from the Florida state endangered species list on Friday, a step forward in the recovery of this unique animal.
A subspecies of the American black bear, the Florida black bear population dropped to 300-500 individuals in the 1940s and 50s due to habitat loss, development and excessive hunting. But thanks to improved land management and a serious recovery effort over the past few decades, the population has recovered to between 2,500 and 3,000 bears in total in the state of Florida.
The Florida black bear’s removal from the Florida state endangered species list is a sign that recovery efforts for the species are working.
Florida black bears exist in several sub-populations in the state, with 1,000 bears in the largest population and 20 or so in the smallest. The smaller, isolated sub-populations are a concern as habitat fragmentation and development increases in Florida. These bears are wide-ranging animals that travel far to find food, shelter, and mates. That’s why wildlife corridors-natural pathways that link bear habitat areas- are essential to bear conservation.
Defenders of Wildlife established a Florida black bear conservation initiative in 1994 with the Habitat for Bears Campaign, and has since worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on long-term plans for managing and connecting bear habitat throughout the state.
While delisting is a marker of success, the species still needs careful stewardship to ensure that it keeps thriving. As development increases, so do conflicts between bears and communities. Public education about bear-proofing trash cans and preventing dangerous encounters is vital to the safety of bears, people and pets. Continued conservation measures are also needed to ensure the smaller bear sub-populations grow to a sustainable size.
The Florida black bear still has a ways to go before we can say that its recovery is complete, but the delisting is a great sign that this species is on its way. Defenders of Wildlife is proud to have made a significant contribution to the recovery effort for this special bear.
Posted in Features, Florida, Florida black bear, Habitat Conservation, Issues, Living with Wildlife, Photo, Southeast, Wildlife