If there's one authentic monarch of the Florida wilderness, it's the black bear. Regal and reclusive, it once roamed freely in the Southeast (including the wild forests of Sarasota), fearing nothing but fire, and rivaled only by other bears. But today, Florida's few surviving black bears are mostly found in the Big Cypress Swamp and the Ocala National Forest.
They're solitary by nature and wide-ranging, traveling up to 20 miles a night in search of food. Not that they're picky eaters; they'll consume just about anything that moves, and many things that don't-including roadkill, cabbage palm hearts, eggs, honey, ants, acorns and armadillos.
The black bear is the largest native land mammal in Florida, and the most powerful. But it's secretive and shy, and rarely seen by humans. It lives alone, in the heart of the wilderness, wandering like a banished king.