About BearWise

Black bear biologists and managers collaborate on landmark bear education program

After more than 2 years of research and development, the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) launched BearWise.org in 2018. Their mission: help people live more responsibly with black bears by providing consistent, science-based information and proven, practical ways to prevent conflicts, resolve problems, and develop BearWise communities to keep bears wild.

The BearWise® program was pioneered by bear biologists from SEAFWA’s 15 member states, where about 70,000 black bears are trying to share space with more than 124 million people. Growing populations of both bears and humans are leading to a rising number of human-bear encounters and conflicts.

The dedicated BearWise Committee, which is a part of SEAFWA’s Large Carnivore Working Group, is co-chaired by Dan Gibbs, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Maria Davidson, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The communications team includes Linda Masterson, author of Living with Bears Handbook.

“Bears have no idea when they cross from public to private lands or from one state to another; that’s why a regional effort to reach out to people who live, work and recreate where bears live too makes so much sense,” explained Gibbs.

The BearWise store offers a range of educational materials, including free print-ready handouts. Anyone interested in receiving timely information about living with bears can subscribe to BearWise emails. As the BearWise program continues to grow and develop, additional resources will be added to the website for bear managers and professionals as well as members of the public, including homeowner associations and municipalities.

Founding member states include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

BearWise logo-trademarked

BearWise, Helping People Live Responsibly with Black Bears
Created and Supported by State Wildlife Agencies and Bear Biologists

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BearWise Program Contact:
Dan Gibbs, Wildlife Management/Bear Program Leader
Co-Chairman, SEAFWA Large Carnivore Working Group, BearWise Committee
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
email: dan.gibbs@tn.gov
phone: 423-587-7037

For general website questions or media requests:  support@bearwise.org

The BearWise® name and logos are registered trademarks and may not be used on educational, promotional or commercial materials or products without prior written approval from BearWise.  support@bearwise.org

current bear territories map

Why Create BearWise?

The Southeast is home to more than 72,000 black bears trying to share space with more than 124 million people.

Estimated Number of Black Bears in the Southeastern States:

Alabama   500 – 700
Arkansas   4,000 – 5,000
Florida   4,050
Georgia   5,100
Kentucky  600
Louisiana   500 – 800
Mississippi   200
Missouri   540 – 840
North Carolina  17,000 – 20,000
Oklahoma   2,000
South Carolina   800 – 1,200
Tennessee   6,000+
Texas   100 – 500
Virginia   18,000
West Virginia   13,000 – 15,000

Source: Eastern Black Bear Workshop, 2019