"Yes, Florida does have bears. The Florida black bear is a subspecies of the American black bear (Ursus americanus), although you probably couldn't tell the difference between the 2 -- except the Florida black bear is typically smaller. It is listed as threatened -- but with 1,500 to 2,000 of these bears left, many people think it should be considered endangered. (If anyone is interested, the summer 2000 issue of EcoFlorida featured an article on Florida black bears; you can order a back issue.) One interesting thing about them that probably won't surprise you is that it's believed not all of them hibernate -- Florida's winters are so mild.
If I were a betting person, I'd bet that where you were in northwestern Florida was near Fort Walton Beach or Apalachicola National Forest. These are 2 prime areas for the Florida black bear because of their forested lands. (Fort Walton Beach's Eglin Air Force Base manages quite a bit of forest.) Other areas Florida black bears like to live in are Osceola National Forest near Lake City and the Ocala National Forest area north of Orlando. Of course, bears roam freely and could be found just about anywhere." *
*Quoted from an online source