American Black Bear Physical Characteristics and Habitat Loss in Florida

Last Updated: 31 Mar 2023
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The American Black bear (Ursus americanus) ranges in length from one hundred and fifty centimeters to one hundred and eighty centimeters, and typically stands about seventy six centimeters to ninety one centimeters at its shoulders. While standing up on its hind feet it can be up to seven feet tall. In terms of their body sizes, males are 33 % bigger than females. A good example of sexual dimorphism, males weigh between 116 and 280 Kg while females weigh between 45Kg to 190Kg. adult black bears have rounded ears, small eyes, short tail, a large body and good sense of smell.

Despite the fact that they have a shaggy black hair, the color of their coat varies through blonde, cinnamon, black to chocolate brown. Black bears can walk and stand using their hind legs; however it is normal for them to walk using their four legs. Scholars argue that it usually stand to look at something or to get a better scent. Their shuffling gait results from their flat footed walk, with their forelegs slightly shorter than their hind legs, the second reason for their shuffle is that they walk with a pacing gait.

Since 1800s, the black bear in Florida has lost over 83% of its habitat, a fact that is attributed to the increase in human population. This has resulted to a decrease in the number of black bear in Florida. Many wildlife scholars agree that the total number of black bear in Florida is currently a tiny fraction of its historical population of twelve thousand (12,000). The current population of black bears in Florida is estimated to be one thousand five hundred. A fact that is attributed to poaching, destruction of there natural habitant, changes in climatic conditions, natural disasters like being hit by a vehicle.

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In Florida alone more than 70% of black bears have been extirpated. There is an agent need to address this issue, so as to save the black bear from extinction; hence the writer of this paper is going to carry out research on extinction of black bears in Florida (Benshoff 2002 pp 8 -13). Statement of Purpose This paper is going to look at extinction of black bears in Florida(Ursus americanus), the causes of extinction of black bears, it will also try to establish the reasons why black bears should be protected the paper will conclude by suggesting what ought to be done so as to curb this problem.

An Estimated one thousand two hundred black bear remains in Florida from a population that was once said to be twelve thousand. Black bear historically ranged in Alabama, Georgia and through the state. Currently major populations are found in Apalachicola, Ocala, Eglin air force base, Osceola national forest in central and northern Florida, big Cypress Swamp, and Backwater State Forest complex.

When all the statistics and tragic trends are accounted for, the black bear in Florida is perceived to be a poor player on this swampy stage, this might explain why black bear’s current population is estimated to be one thousand two hundred individuals. (Black bear honey) Causes of black bears extinction in Florida The primary cause of extinction of black bear in Florida is the loss of their habitat which has been caused by human development (increase in human population), according to figures realized by defenders of wildlife (2008), more than twenty acres of black bear and other wild life habitat is destroyed every hour in Florida.

In Addition to this the road system in Florida has also expanded at a constant rate of five miles per day in the last fifty years. According to Florida wildlife and fish conservation commission 2001 statistics, expansion of roads in Florida has resulted into the death of eight hundred and eighty bears since 1976 (Scott 2004 p 26).

The second cause of black bear extinction in Florida is the failure by USFWS to list Black bear species as an endangered species under ESA in the right time– more than fifteen years ago, Florida residence responded to the escalating threats and decline in population of the black bear by petitioning USFWS to declare the animal as an endangered species, USFWS replied by publishing their ninety days findings in which they noted that there was no enough evidence that could make them declare the black bear a threatened species, despite acknowledging the fact that the animal habitat had been extensively destroyed.

Later on they removed the black bear from the ESA candidates’ listings. Florida residence viewed the refusal by the agency as perplexing. The agency refusal to declare the animal as an endangered species gave poachers moral of poaching the black bear, black bear was also included as a sport hunt. This also opened door for the inclusion of black bear in the hunting sport (Scott C 2004 p 30). The third cause is illegal killing or poaching, so as to supply the Asian markets with bear hearts, paws and galls, these organs (paws, hearts and galls) are perceived to have medicinal values in some Asian countries like Korea, China and Japan.

The demands for these organs in Asian countries also affect other bears like Polar and Grizzly bears. (Maehr 2008) Reasons why black bears should be protected in Florida Black bear should be protected because it is perceived to be an umbrella species by the scientist, given that it has a wide ranging species. Through protecting black bear in Florida and their habitat, other animals and plants species will also be protected in the long run some of these animals which will be protected includes the eastern indigo snake and Florida scrub jay.

The black bear is a symbol for Florida’s diverse wildlife. Black bear being a wide ranging omnivore shares habitat with other species of animals who are natives of Florida. Florida black bear should also be protected because it is an indicator species. Its health and population size can be used in determining if the ecosystem is impaired or is healthy(Burks 1999 p 26). Discussion Despite the threats that black bear are facing in Florida, the U.S.

Fish and wildlife services department have the view that Florida black bear can live on a very small land, that are owned by the public. The agency has allocated the following Osceola National Forest, Big cypress National preserve, Apalachicola National forest and Ocala National forest; these four lands are too small to ensure a long term survival and protection of Florida black bear. Conservation biologists and USFWS agree that all endangered species should have at least ten secure populations, however for black bear they are only four in Florida.

The writer of this paper is of the opinion that to stop extinction of these species the agency should allocate more land to these species so that they can have a large breeding space. The agency should also consider declaring this species endangered specie. This will reduce the rate of their extinction. (Scott 2004 pp 32 -38) Most of the black bears are usually killed between September and October. This is the period in which male bears move away to go start their kingdom.

When moving they, cross the roads and on the way they are hit by vehicles. To stop these killings, drivers should be encouraged to drive with a lot of care during this period. If this is done the number of black bears who are dying because of being hit by vehicles will drastically reduce (Green place) To survive, a single bear needs a minimum of fifty square miles, as human population increases they occupies the black bears range. This fragment the black bears land.

When too much land is lost, the bears find it hard to mate and to find food; this also forces them to come into contact with human beings. Scholars argue that to keep black bears healthy, they need like 500,000 to 1,000,000 acres. The agency should allocate more land for these species. If this is done there population is likely to surpass the current one (Green place) Conclusions The population of black bear in Florida has reduced and there is an agent need to address this matter so as to save this species from being distinct.

Some of the solution to these problems is: the amount of land that has been allocated for the bears should be increased this will give them more breeding and eating space, the government should declare black bear as an endangered specie in Florida this will save them, drivers should be carefully when driving in the high ways in September and Octobers, and lastly the federal and the state government should enforce strict laws which will end up protecting all the animals who are endangered.

Reference: Benshoff P 2002 Myakka Pineapple Press pp 8 -13 Black bears in Florida retrieved from www.floridaconservation. org on March 23, 2009 Black bear honey retrieved from www. swfwmd. state on March 23, 2009 Burks D 1999 place of the wild Island publisher’s pp 23 -32 Foreman D 2004 Rewilding N. America – A vision for twenty first century Island Press pp 11 -16 Green place retrieved from www. orangecountyfl. net on March 23, 2009 Maehr D 2008 Guest column Florida black bear survival relies on large acres of forest retrieved from www. tampabay. com on March 23, 2009 Scott C 2004 Endangered & threatened Florida’s animals & their habitats Texas Uni. Press pp 32 -38

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American Black Bear Physical Characteristics and Habitat Loss in Florida. (2016, Jul 08). Retrieved from

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