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Wildlife Damage Management

Black Bear (Ursus americanus floridanus)

Adult Black bear -- photo by Don Getty Black bears in Alabama, particularly those in southern Alabama, are members of the subspecies of American black bear hailing from Florida. They range in body weight from 120-300 pounds with females being smaller on average than the males. Adults stand at heights from 3 to 6 feet. Occasionally, a black bear from the Appalachian population will be find his way into the northern stretches of Alabama, but these occasions are rare.

Black bear numbers are low in our state, probably less than fifty, and our bears are considered a species of highest conservation concern. Most of our black bears live along the Mobile River Basin and subsist mostly on plants, berries, and insects, eating vertebrate animals only when the opportunity arises. The "more info" link on this page will take you to an article about black bears in Arkansas. The populations are doing much better in Arkansas than in Alabama, but the article contains a lot of interesting information about the biology and behaviors of the species.

Black bears require large contiguous stretches of bottomland hardwood habitat to carry out their lives and reproduce young. Black bears need denning sites, abundant and diverse vegetation, cover, and room for young bears to disperse and continue to grow the population.

Since the early part of the last century, we have cleared much of the bears’ habitat to meet our agricultural needs. As their habitat has disappeared, the bear populations have dwindled. Today, the Alabama Black Bear Alliance is working with the Alabama Wildlife Federation to determine how many black bears are left in Alabama and where they are located.

Given the dire situation faced by our black bears in Alabama, we must take particular care to minimize human impact on their habitat and life cycle. To minimize risks of human interference, never feed bears. Feeding bears can cause them to lose their natural shyness and approach humans in search of food. Even though these bears are not aggressive and will not attack unless provoked, the sight of an adult black bear lumbering towards someone will no doubt cause alarm and possibly result in a rare and valuable animal being killed unnecessarily. Bear sightings in areas outside of their normal habitat or in close proximity to human development should be reported to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Freshwater Fisheries and Wildlife Division.

Encountering Black Bears
(from UAEX.edu)
Conservation Concerns
(from Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission)