Nov. 29 Workshop to Discuss Black Bear Conservation in South Florida
A draft plan to ensure a sustainable Florida black bear population will be presented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at a Nov. 29 public workshop in Naples.
Members of the public from throughout south Florida are invited to the workshop, which will include a staff presentation on the FWC's draft bear management plan. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions, speak or complete a brief survey on the plan. The workshop begins at 6 p.m. at the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, 300 Tower Road.
"We encourage people interested in conserving the Florida black bear to attend this workshop on the draft bear management plan," said Dave Telesco, the FWC's bear management program coordinator. "Public involvement is essential to making this plan effective in conserving Florida's largest land mammal for future generations."
Seven Bear Management Units (BMUs), including a South BMU that contains the black bear population in Big Cypress National Preserve, are proposed in the draft plan. The BMUs will allow the FWC to manage bears in a way tailored by local input and the specific characteristics of both bear and human populations in those areas.
"Bear Smart Communities" also would be created in areas of high bear activity to involve residents, local governments, businesses and schools in changing people's behaviors to reduce human-bear conflicts.
The draft bear management plan is available at MyFWC.com/Bear, where the public can comment online on the plan through Jan. 10, 2012. Comments can also be sent to FWC, 620 South Meridian St. 6A, Tallahassee, FL 32399. The draft plan and a summary of public input will go before the Commission at its February 2012 meeting, but a final decision on the plan will not take place until a later meeting.
The public workshop in Naples is one of four being held across the state. The first was in Bristol on Nov. 22, and others are scheduled for DeLand on Dec. 6 and Gainesville on Dec. 13. For more information on the workshops, go to MyFWC.com/Bear.