Tag Archives: Bears

East Panhandle Bear Management Unit

From “Florida Black Bear Management Plan, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2012”

Counties:  Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington

Minimum subpopulation objective                                                                      570 bears  Estimated subpopulation in primary range                                                411-653  bears  Potential bear habitat in Conserved Lands could support                                 297 bears   (page 99, lines 2347-2349)

“Currently, potential bear habitat in conserved lands are insufficient to maintain or increase the minimum subpopulation objective.  Habitat conservation efforts should seek to create two primary landscape connections:  one with the West Panhandle BMU [Bear Management Unit] that incorporates Econfina Creek Water Management Area and Choctawhatchee River conservation areas, among others; and one with the Big Bend BMU using coastal conservation lands. … Continuing to manage St. Marks NWR [National Wildlife Refuge] and Aucilla WMA [Wildlife Management Area] to provide bear habitat would hel support bear numbers for expansion into the Big Bend BMU. ”  (page 99, lines 2352-2359)

Habitat needed for 570 bears                                                                             2,359,856 acres  Potential Bear Habitat                                                                                         4,278,290 acres  Potential Bear Habitat in Conservation Lands                                                   1,229,916 acres  Total area of BMU                                                                                                5,830,664 acres*

*Includes public and private lands.




West Panhandle Bear Management Unit

Florida counties:  Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Walton

“Bears in the West Panhandle BMU [Bear Management Unit] are part of the Eglin subpopulation, named after the Eglin Air Force Base that represents the majority of occupied bear range in this BMU.  The subpopulation estimate is below the minimum subpopulation objective, and there the management objective is to increase the current bear subpopulation.  However, Eglin Air Force Base is probably at or near its biological carrying capacity, and therefore increases in bear numbers would likely occur in suitable habitats in other parts of the BMU. [Blackwater River State Forest and any Northwest Florida Water Management areas west of the Choctawhatchee River.] (“Florida Black Bear management Plan, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2012”, p. 94, lines 2273-2279.)

“Minimum subpopulation objective                                                                       200 bears   Estimated subpopulaton in primary range                                                       63-101 bears   Potential bear habitat in Conserved Lands could support                                    121 bears

“Currently, potential bear habitat in conserved land is approximately 74 percent of that needed to support the minimum subpopulation objective.  Habitat conservation efforts should seek to expand occupied range and create the following critical landscape connections: along the Yellow River to Blackwater River State Forest; with the Apalachicola [National Forest] population by building on existing conserved habitat toward the Choctawhatchee River; and Alabama’s Mobile bear population through Cunecuh NF [National Forest]. … Increasing genetic interchange with the bears in Alabama would benefit both of these small subpopulations.” (page 94, lines 2286-2293.)

Minimum subpopulation objective is what is needed to maintain a sustainable population.  “In order to maintain a sustainable population of bears throughout Florida, we must provide adequate habitats, promote viable subpopulations, [emphasis theirs] provide connections among subpopulations, manage human impacts, and influence human behaviour.  It a subpopulation drops below a certain level, it becomes increasingly susceptible to negative effects like inbreeding and environmental variability.”  (p. 1, lines 556 to 565.)

Habitat needed for 200 bears                                                                             1,198,461 acres  Potential Bear Habitat                                                                                           1,886,289 acres Potential Bear Habitat in Conservation Lands                                                        723,051 acres Total area of the BMU                                                                                            2,686,289 acres*

(page 96, lines 2297-2300)

*need not be only public lands, but a mix of private lands and public.