St. Marks Mitigation Bank


The Christmas Bear

Bears are made of the same dust as we, and breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bear’s days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are overdomed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with heart-pulsings like ours and was poured from the same fountain…” – John Muir

John Muir wrote these words upon finding a dead bear in his beloved Yosemite National Park. We are always thrilled to glimpse our favorite creatures alive and well on our sites, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, these magical moments seldom occur when we have a camera at the ready. The largest indigenous land mammal in the state, we have seen Florida black bears while working on site at St. Marks Mitigation Bank, but they’re always too quick for us to photo document: this unique subspecies of the American black bear may look slow, but they can actually sprint up to 35 miles an hour! We received a special gift this holiday season when one of our wildlife cameras caught a formidable shot of a bear out for a jaunt on Christmas Day.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, a male Florida black bear’s range is about 60,000 acres, with females ranging around 15,000 acres. Their habitat consists of Florida’s swamps and forested lands, which continue to be lost each year. Long term conservation depends upon coordinated efforts on large tracts of expertly managed land. The conservation efforts implemented on St. Marks have been very complex, so we are grateful for the validation this image provides.