A Bear Management Unit, or BMU, is a community-focused effort to effectively manage and conserve Florida black bears. It allows the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to:
- Manage black bears in each area based on specific local information about both bear and human populations;
- Receive public input on managing and conserving bears in each area.
A key goal of the BMU approach is to work in partnership with local schools, businesses, military bases, residents, and public and private agencies to promote better understanding of bears and actions that will reduce human-bear conflicts.
The FWC approved the Florida Black Bear Management Plan in 2012 to conserve the state’s largest land mammal. The 10-year plan calls for creating seven Bear Management Units (BMUs) across the state, each with a geographically distinct bear subpopulation. The first BMU put into action was the West Panhandle Bear Management Unit. Multiple public meetings and government briefings were held during October 2013. Local government partners and residents provided input on bear issues they were experiencing and ideas on how to reduce conflicts.
FWC will hold public meetings and government briefings in the East Panhandle BMU in Spring 2014. Please check back frequently for meeting dates.
Explore the map to learn more about your BMU and how you can get involved.
Please watch for notice of meetings about your BMU and how you can get involved. You also can sign up for GovDelivery , a new service available through MyFWC.com allowing you to receive automatic emails and/or text messages with FWC news and information on this and other topics.
Each BMU will be managed to meet specific goals related to bear subpopulation size, potential habitat, human-bear conflicts, and potential threats, such as vehicle related mortality (i.e., roadkill).
The following graphs will allow you to compare how your BMU stacks up against the other six BMUs.
In 2002, FWC estimated the statewide bear population at 2,705 to 2,941 bears. In the chart below, you will see the lower and upper population estimates for each BMU, along with the average number of bears displayed to the right.
Potential bear habitat are areas with characteristics that make them more likely to have bears living there. As the name implies, however, potential bear habitat is not necessarily occupied by bears. The four characteristics of potential bear habitat are: 1) land cover type (e.g., forest vs. urban), 2) habitat size, 3) distance from high quality habitats, and 4) connectivity and size of large habitats across the landscape. See the following pie chart for the potential acreage available in each BMU.
FWC receives thousands of bear-related calls from people each year. Some of the calls are positive or neutral in nature, such as reporting a sighting of a bear in the area. Other calls may be more serious, like a bear accessing unsecured garbage. FWC staff offer advice to callers to try to resolve the issue being raised. The next pie chart demonstrates how many calls each BMU has received between 1990 and 2012.
The final goal to be addressed is potential threats to a bear subpopulation. As you can see in the pie chart below, vehicle related deaths (i.e., roadkill) were substantial in two of the BMUs.