FWC expects increase in bear sightings this fall

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The FWC’s Bear Management Program held a press event at the Tallahassee Museum to demonstrate the use of bear-resistant garbage containers. May 18, 2017. photo: Tim Donovan/FWC

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding people to help prevent conflicts with bears by securing garbage and other items that might attract these animals.

In the fall, Florida black bears begin preparing for the 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.

By securing your trash and other food attractants, you can help keep both people and bears safe.

To keep bears wild and away from your home, follow these simple tips:

  • 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.

FWC also wants to remind residents and tourists 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. If you see or suspect someone is feeding or attracting bears, please call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

You also can help people and bears stay safe by remembering to watch for bears while driving. The 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.

The 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.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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