Using Partnerships to Address Human Black Bear Conflicts in Central Florida

Conflicts between humans and bears have escalated in central Florida over the past 5 years. The scope and magnitude of these conflicts extend beyond the responsibilities and capabilities of any 1 agency; therefore, handling these problems requires cooperation among multiple agencies and organizations. We used partnerships to accomplish the following large-scale efforts: 1) a study of movements, habitat use, and population dynamics of bears relative to a highway; 2) creation and implementation of an annual bear festival; 3) creation and distribution of, and training for, an educator's curriculum guide; 4) establishment of a specialty license tag; 5) formation and execution of a broad educational campaign, and 6) support of educational efforts of individual organizations in the partnerships. These examples highlight benefits of collaborative efforts by agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and local communities to resolve large-scale problems between people and bears. Our experiences demonstrate that only through partnerships were we able to generate the funding, public awareness, and human resources needed to effectively address the current situation.

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