A Florida black bear ambles down a firebreak in a forest of pine and palmetto where a camera trap set by Carlton Ward Jr. is waiting. Photo by Carlton Ward Jr./ Carlton Ward Photography
Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition and the bears of the Nature Coast

The Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition is traversing the state and is now in The Nature Coast are of Florida which stretches from Tampa to Tallahassee. For the most part, the area lives up to its moniker, with several large stretches already under protection as wildlife refuges and water management areas. 

Even with so much bear habitat left along the Nature Coast, the Florida Black Bear hasn't recolonized much of the land. Bears in the "Chass" population appear to be restricted to public lands west of the town of Crystal River, at the very southern extreme of the Nature Coast. Fifteen years ago, when the population was first investigated, they were facing the same plight. In 2011, state biologists reported that Chass may include only 11 individuals, showing signs of genetic isolation. 

Expanding the range of the Chass bears is unlikely. According to the biologists studying the population, the key to their survival is to establish resident bears elsewhere along the Nature Coast to the north and then to improve and restore bear habitat in potential wildlife corridors. The idea is that those animals will use the corridors to find the Chass bears and breed there, providing at least a boost to the genetic health of those few remaining individuals. With a spate of bear attacks over the last two years, talk of bringing back a Florida black bear hunt is making headlines in recent days. The larger conservation community in Florida is wrestling with how to handle bear-human conflicts. It is important to recognize the role that wildlife corridors play in reducing negative bear-human interaction. One of the adverts affects of habitat fragmentation is that it brings humans and wildlife in close contact. Reducing the chances for human conflicts that emerge when wildlife habitat is fragmented is considered one of the benefits of wildlife corridors. 

To read more about the Florida Black Bear from expedition team member, Joe Guthrie, please read his blog post found on National Geographic.




WUSF Public Media is a proud supporter of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition. WUSF will brings its audiences reporting on the ten week trek and produce a documentary film which will air on WUSF TV and be distributed nationally to all public broadcasting stations. 

WUSF's Steve Newborn will be leading the news coverage for WUSF on the expedition. Steve will follow the trio throughout the ten week expedition providing radio interviews from the field and by phone. 
UPCOMING EVENTS
Owl Creek Paddle

Hickory Landing at Owl Creek

February 21, 2015

9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Trail Mixer has max capacity of 35 people.

Click here to RSVP. 
How to Follow the Expedition!
To learn more about the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, please visit www.floridawildlifecorridor.org or follow us on social media!
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The Florida Wildlife Corridor is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law. Copyright © 2014 Florida Wildlife Corridor. All rights reserved.

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