Black Bears Are a Protected Species in Alabama

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Black bear sightings in Alabama outside of their primary range of Mobile and Washington counties have increased in 2011. While hunted in other parts of the country, black bears are a protected species in Alabama and no hunting season is established for them through a regulatory process by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF).

During the spring and summer of 2011, bears were reported in several locations throughout Alabama. A male bear was tranquilized in Jefferson County and relocated to suitable bear habitat in another part of the state. Another bear was seen on multiple occasions as it traveled across north Alabama toward Mississippi. Several other bear sightings occurred in Macon and Chambers counties. Recently an adult bear has been the subject in several game camera images taken in Barbour County. Two bear cubs have also been seen in Barbour County.

According to Ray Metzler, Assistant WFF Wildlife Section Chief, the black bear represents an important wildlife resource in Alabama woodlands. “If you do see a black bear, do not panic,” Metzler said. “Consider yourself lucky because you are one of the few people in Alabama to have experienced such a sight.”

Alabama’s black bear population is relatively low, but appears to be increasing as evidenced by the higher than normal sightings. The increase in sightings may indicate that bears are establishing home ranges in other regions of Alabama outside their core areas in Mobile and Washington counties. Changes in bear range and movements may be the result of a combination of factors such as altered habitats due to development and a possible increase in black bear numbers.

Habitat loss, human disturbance, vehicular collisions and illegal killings are substantial obstacles that the black bear must endure to continue to sustain and increase its population levels throughout Alabama. An informed and educated public is essential to the survival of the black bear. Additional information on Alabama black bears can be found at websites such as the Alabama Black Bear Alliance,, the Alabama Wildlife Federation, and the ADCNR website,

For additional information or questions regarding black bears in Alabama contact WFF Wildlife Biologist Keith Gauldin at the WFF District 5 office at 251-626-5474 or

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.


Retired2hunt's picture

  It is great to read of


It is great to read of Alabama having an increased amount of bear sightings as that is a positive position of a larger population now seen within the state's boundaries.  I suspect the two main factors that have led to Alabama having a low bear population in the first place is the habitat loss due to growing human populations in the areas they are mostly found as will as the criminal activity of poaching bears.  Just my opinion on the two primary factors.  Doing a little more research the Alabama bear population is said to be of the Florida black bear species whereas as the other surrounding states are made up of the Louisiana black bear species.  Interesting that the lack of data on the bears there.  A serious management plan (maybe already in place but I couldn't find specifics) obviously is needed to ensure a controlled growth in bear populations throughout the state as well as providing a sustained known set of data points.


Ca_Vermonster's picture

Interesting that there would

Interesting that there would be such a discepency in population that the black bears need to be protected in Alabama.  It seems that there are states that border there, that not only have good populations, but are able to have successful hunts for them.  I wonder if, after a few years of increased sightings and population studies, that they might consider having a bear season there.  I am sure that there are alot of alabama hunters that would be interested in pursuing them.

I would love to see them reach a population that is indeed huntable.  Not just for the actual act of going after them, but just the opportunity to see them.  I love seeing bears, they're pretty cool critters.