Black bear sightings in Alabama outside of their primary range of Mobile and Washington counties have increased in 2011. While hunted in other parts of the country, black bears are a protected species in Alabama and no hunting season is established for them through a regulatory process by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF).
During the spring and summer of 2011, bears were reported in several locations throughout Alabama. A male bear was tranquilized in Jefferson County and relocated to suitable bear habitat in another part of the state. Another bear was seen on multiple occasions as it traveled across north Alabama toward Mississippi. Several other bear sightings occurred in Macon and Chambers counties. Recently an adult bear has been the subject in several game camera images taken in Barbour County. Two bear cubs have also been seen in Barbour County.
According to Ray Metzler, Assistant WFF Wildlife Section Chief, the black bear represents an important wildlife resource in Alabama woodlands. “If you do see a black bear, do not panic,” Metzler said. “Consider yourself lucky because you are one of the few people in Alabama to have experienced such a sight.”
Alabama’s black bear population is relatively low, but appears to be increasing as evidenced by the higher than normal sightings. The increase in sightings may indicate that bears are establishing home ranges in other regions of Alabama outside their core areas in Mobile and Washington counties. Changes in bear range and movements may be the result of a combination of factors such as altered habitats due to development and a possible increase in black bear numbers.
Habitat loss, human disturbance, vehicular collisions and illegal killings are substantial obstacles that the black bear must endure to continue to sustain and increase its population levels throughout Alabama. An informed and educated public is essential to the survival of the black bear. Additional information on Alabama black bears can be found at websites such as the Alabama Black Bear Alliance, www.alabamablackbearalliance.org, the Alabama Wildlife Federation, www.alabamawildlife.org and the ADCNR website, www.outdooralabama.com.
For additional information or questions regarding black bears in Alabama contact WFF Wildlife Biologist Keith Gauldin at the WFF District 5 office at 251-626-5474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.