Are There Bears In Florida? Everything You Need To Know

Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Are There Bears In Florida?

Florida has inhabited bears particularly the black bears since European colonization. By the early 1980s, the area occupied by bears had decreased to 18% of its historic coverage. In the present age, bears have re-occupied 49% of their historic area.

From 1960 to today, the population of these bears has grown from 5 million to 20 million with a projected population of 36 million by 2060. As the human population is spreading outward from cities to rural lands, more people encounter bears.

Here In this article, I’ve explained Are There Bears In Florida? I’ve covered all the details that you need to know

Are There Bears in Florida?

Florida black bear is a subspecies of the American black bear. It inhabits Florida and southern parts of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. They are known for their shiny black fur, short tail, and brown fur on their muzzles. 

With a population of 4050, these bears are Florida’s second largest terrestrial mammal. The population of bears has been growing steadily along with the human population. Therefore, if you live in Florida, there are high chances you may come across these bears.

Which Part of Florida Has Bears?

Although bears have occupied Florida since before European colonization, their range is now 49% of their historic range. Bears prefer to live in Flatwoods, swamps, scrub oak ridges, bay heads, and hammock habitats.

A major population of bears lives on or near public lands including Ocala National Forest, Big Cypress National Preserve, Apalachicola National Forest, Osceola National Forest, and Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. 

How Many Grizzly Bears Are in Florida?

There are no Grizzly bears in Florida. Florida black bears are the only species of bears found in Florida. 

Grizzly bears are stronger, heavier, and larger than the Florida black bears. These bears live predominantly in Alaska and Canada. In the United States, these bears live in parts of Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington state.

Are Bears a Problem in Florida?

Are There Bears In Florida?

Florida black bears consume plants, plant-based food, and insects, and meat. These bears are omnivores, like others in the bear family, and will not attack/ chase humans for food. 

They, however, consume food stocks kept for pets and livestock, garbage, which is a problem to both people and the bear itself. 

These bears also sometimes have scuffles with pet dogs, which may lead to a human attack when the pet owner approaches the bear.

Also Check Out our Guide On Bears In California

How Do Bears Survive in Florida?

Florida black bears are omnivores and survive on 80% of plants, 15% of insects, and 5% of meat. They find food in all types of habitats they inhabit in. Bears are excellent climbers, and this skill comes into use for plucking fruits/vegetables and staying safe on top of trees to avoid humans when frightened.

Are Florida Bears Aggressive?

Florida Black bears are shy and solitary except during mating seasons and when the female has dependent cubs. Though they are reclusive, these bears do not compete with other bears for territory. They, however, will defend a food source from other bears and humans if a situation arises. 

Therefore, to discourage any encounter with bears, people should avoid access to pet food sources by feeding the pets indoors and securing the home perimeter with electric fences.

Is It Illegal to Shoot a Bear in Florida?

People living in areas with frequent bear sightings should follow certain actions set by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to discourage bears from visiting human residing places. These include keeping lids on outdoor garbage cans, using motion-activated alarms, and securing pet foods.

However, if by any bad luck, a bear does come near a resident, it is not advisable to shoot it. It is illegal to shoot/injure a bear on the property unless the person is acting in self-defense. To legally shoot a bear, we need prior permission from Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission.

What Do Florida Bears Eat?

Florida black bears consume throughout the day and night. But are most active during the night and early mornings. Their diet varies across the seasons and geographic locations as the food availability changes from season to season and place to place. 

However, they primarily consume plant-based food which occupies about 80% of their plate, insects like ants, and yellow jackets which occupies about 15% of their plate, and meat which occupies the remaining portion.

During summer, the bears eat about 5,000 calories per day, increasing to 20,000 calories per day during fall as the bear’s prep for winter. 

This allows the bear to have enough inventory during the leaner winter months when abundant food is unavailable. And as the temperature begins to go down, the bears will take refuge in dens and lose up to 25% of their body weight.

Bears can smell food a mile away and are always looking to have their next meal. They are not specific about the type of food they consume and will fight for it if the need arises. 

These bears are often attracted to garbage smells, and pet foods. When the bear consumes these food sources, they grow abnormally large due to the high content of calories. 

An encounter with them may lead to property damage and safety incidents, hence people should secure these food sources by keeping them in storage with lid, indoors, or by fencing their residents with electric fencing. 

Also Check Our Guide On Bears In US

Do Bears in Florida hibernate?

The Florida black bears spend the winter (late December to late March) in a dormant stage inside the den. These dens are in the forest floors, or trees or caves. Though they live inside the den, they do not hibernate. Instead, these bears are active during winter, with the activity varying from individual to individual. An exception to this is the female bears that must den and give birth to offspring.


And that was everything you need to know about the Bears in Florida. I hope this article answered all your questions. 

Thank You For Reading!

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