Our wonderful native Florida black bear is a smaller version of the much more common Eastern black bear. Generally shy and reclusive unless protecting cubs, it has good eyesight up close and possibly the best sense of smell of all native animals.
Males may weigh up to 400 pounds and females 250. They can run 30 miles per hour and can also swim and climb trees. Living a solitary existence except in breeding season, 80% of a bear’s diet is plant-based. They love palmetto berries, fruits and nuts, and, of course, honey. Pregnant females, in anticipation of hibernation and birth, eat 4-5 times their normal amount of food and usually give birth every other year.
Male bears live in a 60 square mile home range, and the Apalachicola, Osceola and Ocala National Forests provide plentiful habitat for these creatures. As the largest land animal in Florida, an adult bear has no predators except humans; many bears are killed on the road by vehicles. As they are active at dawn and dusk, we need to slow down during those times when we travel through bear country.
Our remaining bears, numbered at over 3,500, need thousands of acres of habitat to survive, which is one of the reasons FWF continues to strongly support land protection in a state that is approaching 22 million residents. If we protect the natural habitat, we will continue to have bears and all the other wonderful animals that make Florida special.
Thanks for caring about Florida’s wildlife!