Florida – Residents should expect bear activity to ramp up across the state as fall approaches.
According to the FWC, the appetites of bears increases during the autumn months as they begin the process of putting on fat for the winter. The mammals need to take in about 20,000 calories a day to prepare for winter and will eat anything that’s convenient. Food in a garbage can is more appealing to the animals than foraging in the woods because they can get more calories in a shorter span of time, so bears will be drawn to where people live and work. This means people need to be sure that food sources are secured around their homes and businesses.
According to recent estimates, the FL black bear population is now at 4,030. That’s up a few hundred from the 1970s.
“As autumn arrives, Florida’s large black bear population becomes much more active,” said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. “An increased number of bears looking for food in areas where people live and work can potentially lead to more conflicts. FWC is continuing to partner with local communities on measures to reduce bear conflicts, but Floridians should understand the steps they can take to keep themselves and their neighbors safe.”
The FWC is offering some tips to help keep bears away from your neighborhood:
- Secure houselhold garbage
- Put garbage out the morning of pickup instead of the night before
- Secure commercial garbage in bear resistant dumpsters
- Use electric fencing to protect gardens, bee yards, compost, and livestock
- Encourage local governments and homeowners associations to requre trash be secured from bears
- Feed pets indoors or bring dishes inside after feeding
- Clean grills and store them in a secure place
- Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear resistant
- Pick ripe fruit and don’t leave fallen fruit on the ground.
“If you see a bear in your neighborhood and you’re in your car, or you’re in your house or on your porch… it’s the opposite of what you’d think,” said David Telesco, Coordinator of the FWC’s Bear Management Program. “You should try to scare it away. Yell at it, clap you’re hands… if you’re in your car honk your horn. Make them uncomfortable. They’re naturally afraid of people and we want to reinforce that.”
To learn more about living with bears go to MyFWC.com/Bear.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2016.