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  1. #1

    Default Juniper wilderness closed until 3/13/19

    Can't say I'm surprised. A bear comes in to the main camp area almost every time I'm out there. Weekend before last I was out there, camped north of the main firepit/camp area and screaming could be heard about 9 PM. The weekend before that I camped on the south side of that area and found this:

    Some geniuses decided it would be a good idea to bury their corned beef hash cans and other trash under an inch of soil.

    USDA press release:

    From the USFS:
    Effective immediately, Juniper Prairie #Wilderness on the Ocala National Forest is temporarily closed due to increased bear activity. It will reopen on March 13, 2019.
    USDA Forest Service officials, in consultation with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials, have issued this closure for the protection of public safety and health. Forest Service law enforcement officers will enforce the closure, which runs the wilderness boundary and includes all roads and trails within the area defined on the boundary map.

    Visitors to the area surrounding the wilderness should report any nuisance bear activity to the MyFWC Wildlife Alert Hotline (888) 404-3922. The wilderness will reopen when Forest Service and FWC officials determine it is safe.
    “We estimate that more than 1,000 bears live on the Ocala National Forest,” said District Ranger Carl Bauer. “However, some people don’t practice Leave No Trace or adhere to wilderness ethics when they visit Juniper Prairie. If they leave food or other attractants at their campsites, bears learn that tents mean food. A habituated bear will rip into tents regardless of people or food being present. This type of activity endangers our visitors.”
    Practicing Leave No Trace can reduce and/or deter nuisance bear and wildlife activity. For tips and information on outdoor ethics visit the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics website at
    “The LNT website is a great resource that provides training and guidance for enjoying the great outdoors responsibly,” said Bauer.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    The Great Southern Peninsula


    That's really sad. Last time I was out there will probably be my last for a while. It just felt very overused and I didn't like feeling like I was adding to the problem. Plus I had to chase a bear off with my shoe.

    Any news on the area to north? I did the southern half of the FT in Ocala from Clearwater Lake to Pat's Island in January. I want to do Hopkins north to Rodman over spring break. Anyone been out there recently? Are the rainbow people running wild still?
    "I am learning nothing in this trivial world of [humans]. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news." --John Muir

  3. #3


    Sure it's overused, especially right around the pond. Everyone camps near the main firepit or in an area off to the left about 50 yds away. I'm camping up the crooked sapling prairie to the north. It's much better.

  4. #4


    Here's the sign at Pat's. There were several cars parked in the lot so I'm sure some walked right by without reading. Last time it was closed FWC had tape blocking the trail. The trails coming in from FR 33 had no signs posted at those trailheads.

    I parked at Hopkins intending to camp about an hour north on the FT at a small pond but the FS decided to do a controlled burn around the entire prairie last week so it was sooted up. I wound up camping near the CG and I spoke with the camp host at Hopkins who told me the bear at HP had become aggressive and could not be scared off in its attempts to raid campsites.

  5. #5


    Update: Checked the Ocala forest site before heading out for a few days. No camping allowed in Juniper, day use only.

    Juniper Prairie Wilderness and Juniper Run-Open for Day UseArea(s): Juniper Prairie Wilderness, Yearling Trail
    Date(s): Feb 13, 2019
    Juniper Prairie Wilderness, including Juniper Run, is open for day use only. Overnight camping still prohibited due to dangerous bear activity.

  6. #6


    Another update: The bear hs been caught and euthanized.

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