With spring in full swing and summer right around the corner, black bears in Florida are becoming more active. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is sharing its BearWise tips to help residents and visitors prevent problems between themselves and Florida's native bears.
“Bears become more active during the spring in search of things to eat, including female bears teaching their cubs where to find food,” said the FWC’s Bear Management Program Coordinator, Mike Orlando.
“By removing attractants such as garbage, pet food, and bird seed from around your property, you can help ensure that bears won’t find an easy meal. When bears can’t find food sources, they’ll move on.”
But there's so much more you can do to avoid attracting bears to your neighborhood and help prevent conflicts — by following these six BearWise Basics as recommended by the FWC:
1: Never feed or approach bears
While Black Bears are generally not aggressive, according to the FWC, they have injured people in Florida. Dogs can also trigger defensive behaviors in bears, especially mamas with their cubs.
When bringing along your furry friend on camping trips or walking them, especially in wooded areas, be sure to keep them close to you — a non-retractable leash is best — and be alert to your surroundings. Before letting your dog out at night, be sure to flip your lights on and off and bang on the door to give bears and wildlife a chance to evacuate the area.
As reported by the FWC, when bears become more active, they may also cross more roadways. The FWC recommends that motorists slow down to avoid hitting bears, particularly when traveling in rural areas at dawn or dusk, and to watch carefully for road signs identifying bear crossing zones. On average, 250 bears are killed after being hit by a vehicle in Florida each year.
Been having bad news with bears in your neighborhood? The FWC recommends residents call one of their five regional offices. To find an office near you, click here. To report someone harming or intentionally feeding bears, give FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline a ring at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
For a more comprehensive visual 'Guide to Living in Bear Country', click here, you can also find additional ways to be BearWise at BearWise.org.
Article by Rachael Volpe