PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Palmetto Trace residents in Panama City Beach woke up to signs of bears in their neighborhood for the last week or so.
They have been caught roaming around on peoples’ ring doorbell cameras.
“What bears are going for is easy calories,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Bear Management Program Coordinator David Telesco said.
Community members like Catherine Corser said they have to be cautious.
They believe there are two bears who have been regularly visiting the neighborhood.
“I would not walk alone in the evenings or if I did have to go out in the evenings, I’d probably go armed with something either a bear spray or you know another form of self-defense,” Corser said.
Telesco said bear spray is a great form of self-defense. But you have to be careful about how you use it.
“It is not something you spray in prevention so don’t use it as bug spray, do not spray things that you think it’ll keep bears away,” Telesco said. “It’ll actually attract bears because it’s a really strong smell.”
An airhorn is a good alternative to drive bears away.
Experts said a bear’s sense of smell is 21-hundred times greater than a human’s and they try to avoid people.
In the off-chance you come face-to-face with one, experts know what you should do.
“You stand still and you put your arms up and you just back up and you talk quietly and you keep your eye on the bear,” Telesco said. “That way you’re kind of like I’m not a threat, I’m backing up, everything’s fine.”
Some residents wish FWC would relocate the bears.
“That is not our first go-to and the reason why is because if a bear is in your yard it’s because they’re getting food so if we take that bear away there’s still food in the yard,” Telesco said.
In return, more bears or other wildlife will go to get the food.
Telesco said the best way to prevent bears in your area is to take away the food source or secure it.
Either wait until the morning of trash pick-up to put out your garbage can, seal your garbage can lid with straps or clips, or build a shed or electric fence around your trash.
Check with your waste company or homeowner’s association for guidelines first.