Florida black bear. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

FWC reminds public how to live with bears in SWFL

People in Southwest Florida have reported bear sightings a bit too close to home, and a state agency is reminding people about how we as humans can continue to live alongside the species present in our backyards.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says to help prevent conflicts with bears, secure garbage and other items that might attract these animals.

In the fall, Florida black bears are preparing for winter by consuming extra calories to pack on fat. During this time, they will eat anything that’s convenient, and feeding on garbage provides more calories and less effort than foraging in the woods.

A viewer in Ave Maria recently shared video from her Ring doorbell camera that captured a Florida black bear at the front of her home.

Video Credit: Lorena Silisavage.

FWC has tips to keep bears and people at peace during this time:

  • 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, bee yards, compost and livestock with electric fencing
  • Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute ordinances to require trash be secured from bears
  • Feed pets indoors or bring the dishes in after feeding
  • Clean grills and store them in a secure place
  • Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground
  • Remove wildlife and bird feeders, or make them bear-resistant. See the new “Bears and Bird Feeders” video in the in the “Brochures and Videos” section at com/Bear.

It is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears and cause human-bear conflicts. Anyone who sees or suspects someone is feeding or attracting bears can call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

FWC remind people to watch for bears while driving. This time of year, bears are traveling across more roads in search of food, which results in more vehicle-bear collisions. FWC advises drivers to be aware of their surroundings as they drive in bear country, especially around dusk and dawn, and when there is forest on both sides of the road. FWC works with Florida Department of Transportation to post bear crossing signs in areas that receive particularly high levels of vehicle-bear collisions and plan locations for wildlife underpasses to allow bears and other animals to cross safely under roadways. To learn more about how to keep people and bears safe on Florida roadways, see the “Vehicle Collisions with Bears” video at the “Brochures and Videos” section of MyFWC.com/Bear.

Go to MyFWC.com/Bear to learn more about living in bear country.

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