Additionally, we advocate that if development in bear areas is allowed, that strict “Bear Wise” designs be required to avoid future conflicts with Florida’s bears. We have walked door-to-door in hot-spot neighborhoods already experiencing conflicts in order to help educate people about what they can do to avoid attracting bears or allowing access to human food sources.
In 2012, the black bear was removed from the State of Florida's Endangered and Threatened Species List despite opposition from environmental groups, including the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Today, the population of black bears in Florida has been divided into subpopulations, in part by development that isolates pockets of habitat and places bears in closer contact with humans.
Populations that are isolated are threatened by the ramifications of inbreeding as well as limited space for necessary behaviors such as feeding, foraging, and reproduction. Conflict between bears and an exploding human population have led to worries over public safety and increased euthanasia of ‘conflict’ bears.
One of the subpopulations in Southwest Florida, located partially in Glades County, is in grave danger of extirpation - a local extinction. This population does not meet the minimum numbers to remain viable and the connection between this subpopulation and our Big Cypress subpopulation is limited due to lack of habitat corridors.
Further, as development pushes farther into black bear habitat, humans are more likely than ever to come in contact with bears. People can knowingly and unknowingly create a danger to bears and others if unsecured trash bins, birdfeeders, pet food, and other attractants are left to provide easy meals for bears.
Feeding bears, knowingly or unknowingly, is prohibited in Florida and may result in fines and charges.
When bears associate easy meals with humans, they begin to lose their fear of humans and may even become dependent on humans for their food and begin occupying neighborhoods. Bears that are unafraid of people is problematic for both people and for the bears, themselves. Bears that associate food with humans are more likely to be killed as problem bears.
The saying, “A fed bear is a dead bear,” has never been more true.
Stakeholder in drafting of Black Bear Management Plan in which we advocated for continued protection under the state’s imperiled species list and better conservation of bear habitat. We also advocated for removal of social carrying capacity management and any language regarding hunting.
RESULT: Black Bear Conservation Rule included language regarding continued FWC involvement in the permitting process that allows the agency a nexus to comment and require protections.
Incredible effort by the Conservancy in regards to the proposed bear hunt, as well as sweeping other changes to bear management including depredation permit program, expanded hazing, and accelerated killing of nuisance bears (a.k.a. One Strike Rule).
The manatee population in Southwest Florida is very vulnerable. The Conservancy advocates against attempts to downlist the Florida manatee under the Endangered Species Act.
With only about 100-180 Florida panthers remaining, the Conservancy advocates that development projects avoid impacting any panther habitat, or that officials take steps to minimize any impact.
The Conservancy works with decision makers, and directly with mining operations if possible, to eliminate and minimize the negative impacts of land use changes on natural resources.
1495 Smith Preserve Way Naples, Florida 34102
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239-262-0304 phone 239-262-0672 fax
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