FWC offers tips to keep bears from hanging around as they wake from hibernation

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay County residents from Panama City Beach to Springfield are once again spotting bears in their yards looking for food.

Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a third of the bear sighting that have been called in are bears digging through the trash.

Black Bear Management Program Operator for the FWC, David Telesco, said while we consider our leftovers garbage, for a bear, it’s a calorie jackpot.

“It would take them all day to you know pick up individual acorns in the woods versus knock over and get the same calories so for them it’s a bonanza and they have a hard time resisting it,” Telesco said.

Telesco said bears will typically come out at night because people are less active during those hours. He suggests waiting to put your garbage out for pick up the morning of rather than the night before.

“That just kind of shrinks that window of time bears can get to the garbage,” Telesco said.

He also recommends cleaning your grill, moving pet food inside and keeping bird feeders in a hard to reach spot to prevent bears from coming onto your property.

“But keep in mind if they come close to people, close to houses and nothing bad happens, they’ll continue to come if they’re getting a food reward,” Telesco said.

Telesco said he understands seeing a bear is novel experience, but said it’s important to immediately scare them off.

“Trigger your car alarm,” Telesco said. “Get that bear afraid and startled to leave.”

Telesco also said switching your lights on and off is another good tactic to scare the bears away.

Additionally, Telesco said when bears eat from the trash, they teach their cubs the same behavior and overtime they rely less and less on their natural instincts to find food.

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