Black Bear Laws in Florida

1. No person may take, possess, injure, shoot, collect, sell or attempt to engage in such conduct of black bears or their parts, except to the extent permitted by the rule of the Commission or by the approval of the Commission. Black bears prefer to avoid contact with humans, but if you are attacked by a predatory black bear, you should not play the dead. If a black bear attacks offensively and body contact is made, defend yourself aggressively and focus on the face, eyes, and nose. Humans have managed to fend off black bear attacks with stones, sticks or even their bare hands! On March 17, 2016, various conservation groups across Florida, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a petition with the U.S. Department of the Interior to request that the Florida black bear be listed in federal endangered species law. [46] On the 19th. However, in April 2017, the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Services released a final decision on the Endangered Species Act petition, which rejected the change in status. [47] This decision was similar to the results of the petition filed by Inge Hutchinson on June 11, 1990, which was rejected instead of state measures to protect the Florida black bear. The Federal Government is of the view that federal action is not necessary as long as the State provides sufficient protective measures.

[46] Before Florida was colonized by Europeans, black bears occupied the entire mainland of Florida and even the upper Florida Keys with a population of about 11,000. [17] The current range represents 45% of the historical range in Florida as well as in southern Alabama, southern Georgia and southern Mississippi. [3] [6] [18] Most of Florida`s large black bear populations live on or near public lands. These include Ocala National Forest, Big Cypress National Reserve, Apalachicola National Forest, Osceola National Forest, and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. [16] [17] A study of the Okefenokee osceola population found more than 500 bears in each of the two study areas. There is no way to know the exact number of black bears that exist in Florida, although scientific methods provide a number of statistical estimates in which they are 95% safe. An estimate of the national population was made in 2014 and 2015 before the hunt. FWC estimated that there were nearly 4,000 bears from the results of spatially explicit mark recapture methods. [19] [20] They exist within seven subpopulations[21] that are genetically and geographically isolated. Bear range has expanded in recent decades and recent abundance estimates are higher than those of 2002, but some citizens fear that habitat will continue to be destroyed and believe that their numbers are decreasing.

Today, the main threats to the black bear in Florida are habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as human-bear conflict, including vehicle collisions when crossing roads. The continued intrusion of human development into bear habitat has caused and continues to increase the likelihood of human-bear interactions. Although they tend to avoid people, their extreme food drive is attracted to the things we leave in our homes. Because of their amazing sense of smell, bears can get into trouble accessing outdoor garbage cans, bird feeders, and other light calories in human-dominated areas. Bears can become dependent on a food source and feel too comfortable with humans, so it`s important to keep food away from areas where bears can access it. There is no shortage of natural foods in Florida`s forests for bears, they are very opportunistic food eaters and are technically omnivorous. Bears usually migrate to residential areas because the food they can find there is high in calories and easy to obtain. Bears eat about 5,000 calories a day, except in the fall, when they look for up to 20,000 calories a day to prepare for the lean, cooler winter months. This means looking for food 18 hours a day in the forest.

Because black bears are “smart enough to be lazy” and take the path of least resistance – the neighborhood. You`ll spend a few hours in a neighborhood to get into trash cans, bird feeders, or gardens and get the same number of calories. To learn more about how to protect your property from bears, please see: The Commission last approved a hunt in 2015 – the first in more than 20 years – and hunters killed 304 bears in two days. You are not allowed to “take” a bear. The bear rule is based on Take`s definition in rule 68A-1.004, F.A.C., which includes the pursuit, hunting, harassment, capture or murder or attempt to perform such acts, whether or not such acts result in the possession of the bear. In addition to ingestion, Rule 68A-4.009, F.A.C., generally prohibits anyone from possessing, injuring, shooting, injuring, injuring, injuring, injuring, catching, picking up or selling bears or their parts, or attempting to perform such actions without FWC`s prior authorization. Although Florida black bears are generally not aggressive, they are large and strong and can be reactive if provoked. Studies show that black bears avoid confrontations in 90% of cases.

They usually give a lot of warnings (jaw snapping, snapping, bluffing) before attacking. In most cases where a person has been injured by a bear, this is often a defensive behavior to protect the young or food. Currently, penalties for hunting turkeys and deer out of season are stricter than for killing a bear. The Florida black bear is listed as a recovered species; They are no longer seen as a nature conservation problem. Human and black bear populations in Florida have increased since the 1980s. However, they are protected by the bear conservation rule. This rule protects bears by stating that it is illegal to “take, possess, injure, shoot, pick up or sell black bears or parts thereof, or attempt to engage in such conduct, except as permitted by the Commission`s rule or by the commission`s approval.” There are few exceptions to this rule, which can be found in the Defence of the Necessity of the Common Law. If the bear`s area is protected, other endangered species also benefit. Humans too: Connected forests are important to our freshwater systems and provide natural protection against flooding, erosion and storms. Encounters with black bears can generally be avoided. Make a lot of noise, such as singing or talking, when you visit bear country.

Noisemakers, such as bells, can also be effective in alerting a bear nearby to your presence so as not to scare them. Any loud noise is usually enough to alert a bear to your presence and scare it out of the area, even from your garden. To prevent bears from running around your property, remove all kinds of food attractants. If you encounter a bear that will not be put off by your attempts to “scare” that bear at home or in the wild, you should slowly retreat, retreat to a safe place, and get in touch with the situation in your area. FWC found that bear relocation is not an effective strategy to reduce human-bear conflict. In a recent study, nearly 70% of the relocated bears left the area where they were taken. Bears often leave new areas because most places where bears can be relocated already have resident bear populations, which can make it difficult for the relocated bear to survive. In addition, relocated bears often attempt to return to their original location. These bears roam unknown areas and cross busy roads, posing a danger to the bear and motorists. Even the relocation of bears does not always stop their confrontational behavior. FWC found that at least 50% of the relocated bears again show conflicting behavior. In these cases, even if the bear remains where it was moved, all that has been done is a shift of the conflict problem to a new neighborhood.

Most places in Florida where bear conflicts occur are in the bear range, and even if FWC abducted a bear visiting your neighborhood, the likelihood of another bear finding the same food source is very high. Bears and other wildlife lingering in the neighborhood are a symptom of the problem that wildlife has easy access to food provided by humans. When the unsafe food source – garbage, compost piles, livestock and animal/bird feed – is eliminated, the problem is eliminated. The bears will leave the neighborhood to find another source of food. On December 11, 2015, then-State Senator (now in the United States) Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) submitted with the co-sponsors of Senators Eleanor Sobel (D-FL), Joseph Abruzzo (D-FL), Dwight Bullard (D-FL) and Jeff Clemens (D-FL), S.B. 1096, Florida Black Bears. [38] A House bill identical to S.B. 1096, H.B. 1055[39] was introduced on December 29, 2015 by Rep. Mark S. Pafford (D-FL) and seconded by Reps. Dwight Dudley (D-FL) and Ed Narain (D-FL).

These bills would require the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to establish an account within the Non-Game Wildlife Trust Fund to help fund bear-resistant garbage cans and take certain steps to preserve bear habitat. In addition, the bills would require conservation efforts, including: changing the timing of controlled burns in bear habitat, permanently banning the harvesting of saw palmetto berries, and prohibiting the sale of logging rights to oak-producing oaks. The mention of the sale of timber rights to state land was a response to land use in the Florida Black Bear Management Plan [40], which also included grain cultivation and ranching on state land.