Concerned About Bears? State Agency Wants Your Input

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold six public workshops in April and May to discuss management of black bears in the eastern portion of the Florida Panhandle and how people can get involved in working with the FWC on local bear issues.

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 East Panhandle BMU to manage the bear subpopulation in the Appalachicola National Forest and surrounding areas.

Workshops 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 East Panhandle Bear Stakeholder Group.

The meetings will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. local time at the following locations:

April 30 – Bristol, Veterans Memorial Civic Center, 10405 NW Theo Jacobs Lane

May 6 – Tallahassee, Woodville Community Center, 8000 Old Woodville Highway

May 8 – Panama City, Bay County Public Library, 898 West 11th St.

May 13 – Perry, Forest Capital Hall, 204 Forest Park Dr.

May 15 – Carrabelle, city of Carrabelle Auditorium, 1001 Gray Ave.

May 20 – Port St. Joe. Gulf Coast State College, Gulf/Franklin Campus, 3800 Garrison Ave.

“The FWC is excited about getting the perspective of local residents and stakeholders on bear management in the east Panhandle of Florida,” said Dave Telesco, FWC Bear Management Program coordinator. “These workshops allow more interaction between participants and FWC staff than a regular meeting. We will be listening more than talking.”

The East Panhandle BMU includes Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties. The West Panhandle BMU was put into action in fall 2013, and the Central BMU was initiated in March of this year.

Go to MyFWC.com/Bear and look for “Which BMU are you?” to find out more about black bears in the East Panhandle BMU.

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