The South Central Bear Management Unit includes Charlotte, De Soto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and St Lucie counties. Bears in the South Central BMU exist mostly in Glades and Highlands counties. The plan’s objectives for the South Central BMU are to maintain or increase the current bear subpopulation, increase available bear habitat, create forested connections with the South, Central, and Big Bend BMUs, and to reduce habitat fragmentation. In 2002, the FWC estimated 150 to 200 bears lived in Glades/Highlands subpopulation. In 2011, the FWC estimated there to be an average of 100 bears in the South Central BMU.
In October 2014, FWC held three public meetings in the South Central BMU in the cities of Sebring, Lakeland, and Punta Gorda. At the meetings, participants were asked to share their experiences with bears and bear management in the South Central BMU. Participants were also asked if they would like to work with the FWC on a 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. In late 2014, the South Central BSG began holding meetings to discuss local bear related issues and work collaboratively towards solutions. These meetings will continue into the future being held several times a year.
If you were unable to attend a meeting but still would like to join a Bear Stakeholder Group, please contact staff 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 South Central BMU can be seen below.
Each year, FWC receives thousands of calls statewide from the public about bears. The following chart shows the number of bear-related reports FWC received from the South Central BMU.
The following pie chart represents the reasons people call FWC about bears in the South Central BMU.
We look forward to working with you to conserve and manage Florida’s black bears.