Black bears aren’t a species commonly associated with the state of Florida.
But they’re also not exceedingly rare in the Sunshine State either as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates there are 4,050 black bears in the state. That said, seeing them is rare.
I’m a born and raised Floridian. I was a Boy Scout and we camped all over the state. I’ve never seen one in the wild in Florida in my life.
Suffice it to say the shock at a crowded Destin beach in the panhandle was warranted as a black bear swam up from the Gulf of Mexico.
— Cdawg (@cbcpa79) June 11, 2023
That video was shared on Twitter and has since been viewed over 3.4 million times, if Twitter’s analytics are to be believed.
Good samaritans appear to guide the bear to the safety of the sand but the beach is so crowded there’s really no way to get everyone out of the way.
The comments on Twitter are deranged. It is a mixture of people talking about hunting and others asking unhinged questions.
One person, however, did ask a very reasonable question. They wrote “wonder where he came from?!” and the person who shared the video responded “He was way out in the gulf. Most of us thought it was a dog at first.”
This angle is from the water:
The MyFWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) landing page for black bear facts in Florida is pretty illuminating.
It notes that ‘urban sprawl’ has led to more human and black bear encounters in Florida than ever before. The FWC claims the largest-ever black bear found in Florida was a female weighing 460 pounds.
It is the beginning of black bear breeding season in Florida which runs from June to August so bear activity higher than normal.