FWC seeks feedback on its update to the FL Black Bear Management Plan

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission made an update to the Florida Black Bear Management Plan. Now, it wants your input to guide bear management for the next 10 years.

In areas of Southwest Florida, like Golden Gate, bears rummaging through trash cans, looking for the bare necessities is becoming the norm. The FWC wants to hear from residents in our area, such as Hilary Hogue, about how you can share the neighborhood.

Hogue has heard about bears in the neighborhood, including the large animals crossing the street. She wants the county to put more signs. “Maybe we should corner off the areas where the bears are procreating or living,” Hogue said.

Brooklyn Wright wants to offer tips to homeowners when they are driving to work or doing errands. “Always keep your eyes on the road and don’t shoot them,” Wright said. “And don’t text and drive at the same time, so you don’t hit it.”

There are three main updates to the bear management plan. According to the FWC, the plan has new data and an expansion of the Bear Management Unit Profiles. There is also a new section on population management techniques. A summary of these major updates is accessible here.

Before these updates, the original plan in 2012 had a statewide framework for actions that need to take place to ensure the long-term survival of bears and their management challenges. The FWC asks for your input on these updates until Nov. 6 by completing an online survey.

The FWC will hold webinars led by the staff of the state government agency to provide clarity on the new plan and answer any questions you may have. There will be a webinar from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. To participate in a webinar, go to Meetingone.AdobeConnect.com/FWC (further directions are on the FWC website).

It is imperative to make your voice heard now. The FWC Commission meets in Panama City Beach in December. Staff will present a summary of updates to the plan and the input the public gave. The state government agency says once the commissioners approve the plan, it will guide bear management for the next decade.

For Jenna Wright, we must make life easier for these bears over the next 10 years. With more construction, more buildings are taking the homes these animals use to claim as their natural habitat. “They have nowhere else to go,” she said. “Let’s keep them safe.”

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Michael Mora
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