Nov. 22 workshop to discuss black bear conservation in Panhandle
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Media contact: Stan Kirkland, 850-265-3676
A draft plan to ensure a sustainable Florida black bear
population will be presented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) at a Nov. 22 public workshop in
Members of the public from throughout the Panhandle are invited
to the workshop, which will include a staff presentation on the
FWC's draft bear management plan. Attendees will have the
opportunity to ask questions, speak or complete a brief survey on
the plan. The workshop begins at 6 p.m. EST at the Veterans
Memorial Civic Center, 10405 N.W. Theo Jacobs Lane.
"We encourage people interested in conserving the Florida black
bear to attend this workshop on the draft bear management plan,"
said Dave Telesco, the FWC's bear management program coordinator.
"Public involvement is essential to making this plan effective in
conserving Florida's largest land mammal for future
Seven bear management units (BMUs) - including the West
Panhandle BMU, which includes Eglin Air Force Base, and the East
Panhandle BMU, which includes Apalachicola National Forest - are
proposed in the draft plan. The BMUs will allow the FWC to manage
bears guided by local input and specific characteristics of both
bear and human populations in those areas.
"Bear Smart Communities" also would be created in areas of high
bear activity to involve residents, local governments, businesses
and schools in changing people's behaviors to reduce human-bear
conflicts. The U.S. Air Force's Hurlburt Field in Okaloosa County
recently was recognized by the FWC for implementing bear education
of residents and using bear-proof garbage cans, which have reduced
calls and complaints about bears by 70 percent so far in 2011,
compared with 2010.
The draft bear management
plan is available at MyFWC.com/Bear, where the public can
comment online on the plan through Jan. 10, 2012. The draft plan
and a summary of public input will go before the Commission at its
February 2012 meeting, but a final decision on the plan will not
take place until a later meeting.
The public workshop in Bristol is the first of four that will be
held across the state. Others are scheduled for Naples on Nov. 29,
DeLand on Dec. 6, and Gainesville on Dec. 13. For more information
on the workshops, go to MyFWC.com/Bear.