Florida Wildlife Festival History
The purpose of the Florida Wildlife Festival is to increase awareness and promote the safe coexistence of humans and wildlife by fostering community appreciation of the Florida black bear and other native wildlife species, as well as Florida’s unique ecosystems that serve as wildlife habitat.
The festival was started as a one-day festival 15 years ago with the primary goal of promoting awareness of the Florida black bear and living safely in bear country. Partners included City of Umatilla, the U.S. Forest Service, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce, and through the years have had an opportunity to educate thousands of people about bears. We have also expanded our partnership to include Lake County and The Black Bear Scenic Byway.
Back then, the Florida black bear was listed as an imperiled species; more recently the bear has been removed from the imperiled species list. That means the bear’s population numbers have increased to a point that it is no longer in danger of disappearing. Whenever a species is removed from the imperiled list it is a wildlife conservation victory and tribute to the measures that were and still are in place to protect the species. This year we are excited to expand the focus of the festival to include not only the Florida black bear, but other native wildlife species, both imperiled and common.
There are a number of benefits to expanding the festival’s focus, including more and new wildlife species information, speakers and activities.
The Florida Wildlife Festival is a free, family-oriented educational event.
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