Wildlife officials are using cutting-edge technology to monitor and manage the Florida Black Bear population…with an emphasis on bears killed by automobiles. While the exact size of the Florida Black Bear population is unknown – the number of bears that become road kill is rising.
In conjunction with the state’s Department of Transportation – scientists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently finished a study using genetic analysis to evaluate the overall size of the bear population – and how significantly roadkill is affecting it. Henry Cabbage is spokesman for the FWC.
“We set up about 7-thousand sites around the state – which are basically a square ring with barbed wire with some kind of lure inside. The bears would climb through the barbed wire to get to the lure and would snag their fur on the barbs and we would take those samples and send them off for DNA analysis so we could identify individual bears, and what became of them, and draw some conclusions about that.”
The study determined there are about 2-thousand Black Bears left in Florida. In southwest Florida, Big Cypress is home to approximately 700. It concluded the number of bears-- killed on roadways-- was occurring at a sustainable rate…and doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the overall population. There were 28 bears killed on roadways within the study area in 2002… more recent statistics were unavailable. Black Bears are Florida’s largest native land mammal. Vehicle collisions with bears can cause significant injury not only to the bear, but to motorists as well.
Monday, 01 August 2005 01:00