December 16, 2012
Florida Black Bear
This Florida black bear meandered out of the woods while I was hunting with my deer dogs this past week in the Apalachicola Wildlife Management Area. It used to be that I would get a glimpse of a bear every now and then, but now I see them several times a week.
That particular day, I was quick on the draw with my camera and managed to get his picture. Even though the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has removed the black bear from the list of State-designated Threatened Species (68A-27.003, F.A.C.), it is still unlawful to injure or kill bears. The only legal way to "take" a bear is with your camera!
I have talked with several hunters and campers in the Florida panhandle area over the past few months. Many of them have sighted bears in the woods and along the roads. Due to their increased numbers over the years, bears have been known to be a nuisance around campsites and even in towns and cities. The Florida bear population is estimated to be at more than 3,000. They're fun to look at in their natural habitat, but remember that bears are wild animals and have the ability to seriously harm humans if they feel threatened or they're defending their cubs. So it is best to keep your distance. If you feel threatened by a bear, the best thing to do is attempt to scare them away by making as much noise as possible, for example: yelling, blowing a horn, or banging pots and pans together.