Thread: Beware of Bears!
05-23-2012, 05:51 PM #1
Beware of Bears!
FWC to Florida residents: Be ‘bear aware’
Love is in the air for Florida black bears. Breeding season for bears runs from June to July, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding homeowners that bears are moving around, foraging for food and looking for mates.
According to FWC bear management program coordinator Dave Telesco, the agency is seeing an increase in calls about bears in neighborhoods around the state. The animals are lured into neighborhoods to feast on unsecured trash. His best advice: Do not feed the bears. It is also illegal to feed bears in Florida.
Telesco says problems arise when bears have access to people-related food sources such as pet foods, garbage, barbecue grills, birdseed or livestock feed. He says bears learn very quickly to associate people with food, and this puts the animals at increased risk of illegal kills or crossing highways and getting hit by vehicles.
Black bears normally are too shy to risk contact with humans, but their strong food drive can overwhelm these instincts.Residents can help these bears “move on,” so they don’t cause a conflict.
Telesco explains that if people remove the attractants, the bears will stay where we want them to stay – in wooded areas – and not enter urban and suburban neighborhoods. Properly storing and securing garbage is a proven method of discouraging bears. Barbecue grills should be stored in a secure place, such as a garage or a sturdy shed. Keep garbage cans secure and only place them outside on the morning of pickup, rather than the night before. People can encourage their neighbors, community or local government to use bear-resistant trash containers or dumpsters. To find out where to get them, go to MyFWC.com/Bears and select “Brochures & Other Materials.” Telesco says another way people can help is to feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
“If you see a black bear, remain calm. Don’t run. Walk calmly toward a building or vehicle and get inside,” Telesco said. “If you have children or pets, bring them inside. Once you are in a secure location, encourage the bear to leave by banging pots and pans, blowing a car or air horn or whistle. The more stressful a bear’s encounter with you, the less likely it is to come back.” If a bear is in a tree, leave it alone. Remove people and dogs from the area. The bear usually will come down and leave when it feels safe, which is typically after dark.
If the bear is threatening the safety of humans, pets or livestock or is causing property damage, report it to the FWC at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Residents can find out more about living with black bears at MyFWC.com.