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In past years, FWC and several universities have conducted research on black bears in Florida.  Research topics include: bee yard depredation, denning and litter sizes, diets, diseases and parasites, habitat selection, movements, and population characteristics. The results of such research have been published in scientific journals, available from university libraries.  To assist in your search, the citations for these  articles are listed in the Bibliography.

Current Research

FWC and graduate students from the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky are currently conducting several research projects on Florida black bears. These projects are:

Statewide Assessment of Road Impacts on Bears in Florida: This 3 year study (begun in 2001) will assess the impacts of transportation related deaths on bear populations by estimating the abundance and distribution of black bears in six core areas across the state. The results will enable FWC to make informed decisions regarding highway management issues such as design, placement, and mitigation.

Black Bear Movements and Habitat Use Relative to Roads in Ocala National Forest: Researchers with the FWC are investigating the movements, habitat use, and population dynamics of black bears along a portion of State Road 40 in Ocala National Forest. The Ocala black bear population is the largest in the state and has sustained 43% of the statewide roadkill since 1976. State Road 40, which is being considered for widening, bisects the national forest and contains several sites where roadkilled bears are a reoccurring problem. FWC is seeking to define habitat use, patterns of movement and rates and sources of adult mortality from radiocollared bears. Data concerning the locations and patterns of highway crossings are being gathered from a dirt track transect adjacent to the roadway, and by documenting the locations of unsuccessful road crossings. The distribution and abundance of fall foods is also being assessed by mast surveys to help explain bear movements and highway crossing frequency.

Demodicosis in the Ocala Population: Researchers with the FWC are looking at demodicosis (mange) problem in black bears on the western edge of the Ocala National Forest. This type of mange is caused by a mite that is not contagious to people or domestic animals. The mites live in the hair follicles and severe infestations result in hair loss. In domestic animals, demodicosis is often the result of immunosuppression and we suspect that the presence of these mites may reflect some type of underlying problem in bears from this region. This study is also centered on SR40 and movement and mortality data are used to complement the above study Black Bear Movements and Habitat Use Relative to Roads in Ocala National Forest.

Population Dynamics in Chassahowitzka: A 5 year research project examining the Chassahowitzka black bear population is in its final year (2001). This population occupies a thin strip of land in Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties between US19 and the coast. The population numbers less than 20 bears and may be North America's smallest black bear population. Data collected includes population size and structure, habitat preferences, home range size, mortality factors, and genetics and will be used to guide management decisions to preserve this isolated group of bears.