Florida Bear Dens
Between early December and late January, most female black bears in Florida create winter dens where they birth and nurse cubs; bears in southern Florida appear to den a few weeks later than bears in the rest of the state. The type of bear den most often found by FWRI bear researchers is a soft “nest” created from leaf litter, like pine needles or chewed saw palmetto fronds. The other common den types observed are large tree cavity dens, and holes dug into the ground just large enough to fit an adult bear. A few unusual dens found over the years include a notch between two horizontal saw palmetto trunks, a flat space created by multiple spreading oak branches, and the stumps of large trees that, provided horizontal cover but no shelter from the weather. Regardless of the den type, bears look for somewhere hidden to keep young cubs safe in the critical first few months of life. These can be in a variety of plant communities, from dry oak scrub, mesic flatwoods, or forested swamps.
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