Florida – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is warning Florida residents that black bears become more active during the spring, and officials have some helpful tips so that Floridians can protect themselves and the bears.
“Bears are starting to come out of their winter dens and they’re searching for food,” Dave Telesco, who directs FWC’s Bear Management Program, says. “Don’t give a bear a reason to hang around in your neighborhood. Remove anything that might attract a bear. If they can’t find food, they’ll move on.”
The FWC says that black bears are not naturally aggressive, but the bears have injured people in Florida. FWC officials ask everyone not to intentionally approach the bears and to keep dogs close by, preferably on a non-retractable leash, while walking the dogs. Dogs can potentially trigger aggressive behavior in bears.
Below are some tips from the FWC on how you can keep bears away from your home:
- Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage, or wildlife-resistant container.
- Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
- Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
- Protect gardens, beehives, compost, and livestock with electric fencing.
- Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash be kept secure from bears.
- Feed pets indoors or bring in leftover food and dishes after feeding outdoors.
- Clean grills and store them in a secure place.
- Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
- Pick ripe fruit from trees and bushes and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
Officials remind Floridians that it is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears and cause human-bear conflicts. Also, since an average of 240 Florida bears each year are killed after being hit by vehicles, slow down while driving and watch for road signs indicating bear crossings.
If you have questions or concerns about interactions with black bears, you can call one of the FWC’s five regional offices. Go to MyFWC.com/Contact, and click on “Contact Regional Offices” to find the phone number for your region. If you feel threatened by a bear or want to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
More information can be found at MyFWC.com/Bear.
Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.