Alligators aren’t the only megafauna of the great Okefenokee Swamp! I’ve made several excursions to the Okefenokee, but have never had the privilege of spotting a bear. I get a bit jealous as I see iNaturalist observations of Black Bears lumbering through the Stephen C Foster campground, or in other places throughout the swamp.
Most of my visits to the Okefenokee have been in March, and the bears may still be safely tucked away in hibernation dens at that time, which typically lasts from December to April. But on my May 2020 trip, I came across a long line of tracks on the Upland Pine Trail in the Stephen C Foster State Park.
With their numbers declining because of habitat loss, the Okefenokee is truly a refuge for this handsome ursine inhabitant. The Okefenokee affords them some remote location to get far from their human predators as possible. They are often not seen, as I can attest, more than their signs are discovered. Claw marks on trees and prints in the swamp mud are often the only evidence found of the Black Bear by most Okefenokee visitors.
Bears have a varied diet, but are reportedly a major predator of alligator eggs. They are a true omnivore and feast upon the abundant floral and faunal inhabitants in the swamp ecosystem. And, of course, they love honey! They often got the blame for tearing up the managed hives of the swampers that once lived in the Okefenokee.
iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/51485410
William, a very interesting post! Black bears who had been nearing extinction in FL, have rebounded. An interesting thing I learned is that Florida black bears don’t hibernate, although the females den about every two years.
All the best! Cheryl
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Hi William. A very good job on this article. As a long-time hiker, I am always on the lookout for a bear. But, in the two times I’ve seen one, they ran away (and one had a cub). I was not aware there were any in Florida. Keep up the great work! God Bless…
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I’m heading back to Okefenokee this weekend and hope to see more than just bear tracks! I’ve only seen them in GSMNP and in Romania. Thanks for reading! William
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