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FWC to hold 3 public meetings for input on managing bears in northwest Florida


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will hold public meetings in Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton counties to discuss management of Florida black bears and how people can get involved.

Under the FWC’s Florida Black Bear Management Plan, approved in 2012, seven bear management units (BMUs) will be established throughout the state. The West Panhandle BMU, encompassing the counties of Escambia, Holmes, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton, will be the first to be created. The BMU approach will allow the FWC to manage bears based on the characteristics of bears, people and habitat in this part of Florida.

The three public meetings offer the public a chance to provide input on local bear issues. They are on:

  • Oct. 15 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., West Navarre Intermediate School cafeteria, 1970 Cotton Bay Lane, Navarre.
  • Oct. 22 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Northwest Florida State College, Building 8 auditorium, 1170 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Fort Walton Beach.
  • Oct. 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., Coastal Branch Library, 437 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach.

“We are excited about working closely with local stakeholders to conserve and manage Florida black bears in the west Panhandle,” said Dave Telesco, FWC Bear Management Program coordinator. “We’ll start the process with public meetings in the communities experiencing frequent human-bear conflicts.”

Go to MyFWC.com/Bear and select “Which BMU are you?” to find out more about black bears in the West Panhandle BMU.