When most people think of Florida, their minds wander to images of sunny skies, Disneyworld, or white, sandy beaches. However, if you’ve ever been on a Florida eco-tour, you probably also think of the vast and varied natural landscapes of Florida that are home to some absolutely stunning wildlife. You may even be familiar with one of Florida’s more elusive wild residents — the Florida black bear! However, if you don’t know much about this cute (but maybe not so cuddly) Florida native, we’re here to fill you in! Here are a few common questions we get about Florida black bears on our eco-tours with some answers that may surprise you:

Are black bears native to Florida?

Yes, black bears are native to Florida! In fact, before Europeans settled in the area these beautiful creatures occupied the entire mainland. Currently, Florida black bears only inhabit about half of their historic range. However, this is up from the 1970s when they only inhabited 18% of their former grounds.

Are Florida black bears endangered or threatened?

No, the Florida black bear is not listed as an endangered or threatened species. In fact, thanks to conservation efforts, they are not listed as a recovered species! However, while the Florida black bear was removed from the Threatened Species list in 2012, a “Bear Rule” was instated to keep the species safe. The Bear Rule makes it unlawful to injure or kill a bear without authorization from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Are there other types of bears that live in Florida?

While there are 16 subspecies of black bears, Florida is only home to one! That means the Florida black bear is the only bear species that lives in Florida today. So if you happen to see a bear— you know it’s a Florida black bear!

Where do Florida black bears live?

Florida black bears live throughout the state. Their main habitats are the flatwoods, swamps, scrub oak ridges, bayheads, and hammocks. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a free, interactive map where you can see where bears are living throughout the state!

Will I see a bear on my eco-tour?

Never say never! Bears are spotted in Charlotte County from time to time so it’s not out of the question to see a bear on your Babcock Ranch Eco-Tour. However, you’ll have more luck spotting other beautiful wildlife like native birds, deer, alligators, and more on your tour!