Beaches and Bears: Pam’s prevalence in the community is ‘not a good situation’

Published: Friday, August 16, 2013 at 04:23 PM.

 In this first six months of 2004, Okaloosa County had 45 calls and Walton County had one. In 2012 there were 36 calls from Walton and 327 from Okaloosa.

“These are significant increases,” Kirkland says as he acknowledges that black bears are native to Florida.

"We are just trying to figure out how do we live and co-exist with them. They were here first," he said.

There was a relative absence of bears in this area in the early 1970s, with an estimated 500 bears, based on the best available information, and the black bear was placed on the threatened list. Due to their prolific increase, they are no longer on the list.

"They have increased statewide," said Kirkland, "and we are starting to see them north of 98 in Milton and Navarre. And they are expanding their range south of 98 in Navarre."

In fact, on a recent weekend, FWC staff responded to an incident in Santa Rosa County where a bear had gotten south of 98. U.S. Highway 98 had to be shut down as an officer darted the bear to immobilize and remove it to Eglin.


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