71ºF

Florida black bears more active during spring, here's how to avoid conflict

'Don't give a bear a reason to hang around in your neighborhood'

photo

ORLANDO, Fla. – Spring is here, which means Florida's black bear population is becoming more active, increasing the chance of conflicts with people.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials issued a reminder and tips Floridians can follow to decrease the odds of encountering wild bears. 

“Bears are starting to come out of their winter dens and they’re searching for food,” said Dave Telesco, who directs the FWC’s Bear Management Program. “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.”

Although black bears aren't generally aggressive, they can be dangerous, particularly if their defensive behaviors are triggered or if it's a female with cubs. In Seminole County, a sow with two yearlings attacked multiple dogs and ravaged a family's SUV

FWC recommends the following these tips to deter bears:

  • Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a 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 homeowners association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash be kept secure from bears.
  • Feed your pets indoors, and bring in leftover food and dishes after eating 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.

Floridians should also keep in mind that it's illegal to feed bears.

When driving in rural areas, remember to use caution and slow down particularly at dawn or dusk. This will reduce the risk of fatally striking a bear, which happens about 240 times a year across Florida.

Anyone having conflicts with bears can contact one of FWC's regional offices by clicking here. To report a threatening bear or someone who is intentionally feeding or harming the animals, call FWC's wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).


About the Author: