The East Panhandle Bear Management Unit includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties and contains the Apalachicola subpopulation, named after the Apalachicola National Forest. The plan’s objectives for the East Panhandle BMU are to maintain the current bear subpopulation with the necessary habitat to support them, create forested connections with the West Panhandle and Big Bend BMUs, and to reduce human-bear conflicts, vehicle-related bear deaths, and habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 411 to 653 bears lived in East Panhandle subpopulation. In 2015, the FWC estimated there to be an average of 1,076 bears in the East Panhandle BMU.
In April and May 2014, FWC held six public meetings in the East Panhandle BMU in the cities of Bristol, Tallahassee, Panama City, Perry, Carrabelle, and Port St. Joe. At the meetings, participants and staff had open discussions about bears and bear management in the panhandle of Florida. Using an application process, the attendees were narrowed down to be a part of the East Panhandle Bear Stakeholder Group (BSG). BSGs are comprised of local businesses, waste service providers, law enforcement, FWC staff, residents, and government officials from cities, counties, and the state. BSG meetings will continue into the future being held several times a year.
Missed the public meetings but still want to be part of the Bear Stakeholder Group? Email us at: BearPlan@MyFWC.com
Vehicle strikes account for the majority of bear deaths in Florida statewide. The number of bears killed by vehicles, or euthanized due to vehicle injuries, documented each year in the East Panhandle BMU can be seen below.
Caption: This bar graph shows the number of bears killed by vehicle strikes in the East Panhandle BMU from 2000 to 2016, totaling 455 bears.
2010 = 56 bears
2011 = 55 bears
2012 = 81 bears
2013 = 52 bears
2014 = 72 bears
2015 = 81 bears
2016 = 58 bears
Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. Over 25% of the statewide bear-related calls each year come from the East Panhandle BMU. The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the East Panhandle BMU.
Caption: This bar graph shows the number of East Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2016, totaling 6,963 calls.
2010 = 897 calls
2011 = 591 calls
2012 = 1,038 calls
2013 = 1,007 calls
2014 = 1,016 calls
2015 = 1,234 calls
2016 = 1,180 calls
The following pie chart represents the reasons people call FWC about bears in the East Panhandle BMU.
Caption: This pie chart shows the reason for East Panhandle BMU bear related calls received by FWC from the public from 2010 to 2016, totaling 6,963 calls. In Garbage (brown slice) = 37%; General Interaction (light blue slice) = 32%; Sick/Dead Bear (dark green slice) = 15%; Property Damage (orange slice) = 9%; Bear-Animal Encounter (yellow slice) = 3%; Public Safety Incident (light green slice) = 1%; Miscellaneous (light grey slice) = 1%; Illegal Activity (dark blue slice) = <1% ; In Structure (dark grey slice) = <1%
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.