In March, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold seven public meetings to discuss conservation and management of black bears in central Florida and how people can get involved.
Under the FWC's Florida Black Bear Management Plan approved in 2012, seven bear management units (BMUs) will be established throughout the state.
The BMU approach will allow the FWC to manage bears based on the characteristics of bears, people and habitat in different parts of Florida. The first steps are being taken to create the Central BMU to manage bears in central Florida, which includes the state's largest bear subpopulation in the Ocala National Forest and surrounding areas.
The meetings will offer the public a chance to provide input on local bear issues and allow interested individuals to sign up to be active members of the Central Bear Stakeholder Group. The meetings will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the following locations:
- March 4 - Longwood, Markham Woods Church, 505 Markham Woods Road.
- March 6 - Umatilla, Olde Mill Stream RV Resort, 1000 N. Central Ave.
- March 11 - Ocala, Howard Middle School Cafetorium, 1655 NW 10th St.
- March 18 - DeLand, City Hall, 120 S. Florida Ave.
- March 19 - Fort McCoy, Whiteacre Memorial VFW Post 1020, 23498 NE Highway 314.
- March 20 - Palatka, Ravine Gardens State Park, 1600 Twigg St.
- March 25 - Gainesville, City Hall, 200 E. University Ave.
"We are excited about getting the perspective of local stakeholders on bear management and conservation in central Florida," said Dave Telesco, FWC Bear Management Program coordinator. "We are looking forward to working together to reduce human-bear conflicts so people and bears can coexist in Florida."
The Central BMU includes Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Clay, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Putnam, Seminole, St. Johns, Sumter and Volusia counties and is the second BMU being implemented. The West Panhandle BMU was put into action in fall 2013, and the FWC continues to have productive discussions with local governments, partner agencies and residents who live in the area.
Go to MyFWC.com/Bear and look for "Which BMU are you" to find out more about black bears in the Central BMU.
"A guide to living in bear country" is also available at MyFWC.com/Bear by clicking on Brochures and Other Materials, and you can find more on bears and the bear management plan at MyFWC.com/Bear.
Contact: Greg Workman, 352-620-7335
Karen Parker, 386-754-1294
Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459