Florida Black Bear Festival is Saturday
Monday, March 21, 2011
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is
once again a proud partner in the Florida Black Bear Festival, an
event dedicated to helping people understand and live in harmony
with the fascinating Florida black bear.
The family-oriented festival, now in its 12th year,
is scheduled for Saturday, March 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at
Cadwell Park in Umatilla, south of the Ocala National Forest. The
free event is a great way for families to spend a few hours
together doing something fun and educational at the same time.
There will be numerous informative and entertaining programs
about black bears and living in bear country. At 10:30 a.m., Kate
Marshall, an award-winning documentary producer, will show some of
her "The Season of the Bear" documentary series, with FWC
biologists available to answer questions and give updates on some
of the bears featured in this presentation.
At 12:30 p.m., wildlife biologist Andrea Boliek will give an
exciting presentation about "the bear facts." Learn about
different species of bear and myth-versus-fact about the black
Finally, at 2 p.m., wildlife biologist Mike Orlando will discuss
interactions between bears and people and how to ensure a positive
and safe experience. He will also speak about bear behavior and the
science and techniques used to discover the secrets of a bear's
Meanwhile, deep in the Ocala National Forest, FWC bear research
biologists Walter McCown and Brian Scheick will lead field-trip
participants through natural bear habitat and explain a bit of
bruin natural history. Field trips begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be
repeated every hour. The bus for the last field trip leaves the
festival grounds at 1:30 p.m.
In addition, there will be tours of the Black Bear Scenic Byway
and the historic Carr Cabin in the Ocala National Forest.
At the festival grounds, the FWC is proud to bring back an
activity for children of all ages called "Come Be a Bear!"
This is an interactive journey through the seasons that helps
children experience how a black bear really lives in the wild. See
what a bear likes to eat, how it prepares for the winter and what
its den is like.
FWC biologists will be on hand to answer all your bear-related
questions. They'll display a "buffet" of a typical bear's diet -
both the healthy, natural kind and the problem-causing kind only
humans can provide. Learn the difference and be surprised at
some of the things bears will eat and how biologists know.
The FWC will also display examples of bear-resistant garbage
cans, an electric fence, a bear-resistant wildlife feeder and a
trap used to capture bears.
There will be plenty of literature about bears and other
wildlife, and the very popular FWC traveling exhibit trailer will
be on hand with its wildlife diorama display.
"Our goal is for festival-goers to learn everything they always
wanted to know about the Florida black bear, and have fun while
they learn," said Jessica Basham, the FWC's bear festival
Central Florida boasts the highest density of bears in the state
and can truly be called bear country. But that distinction brings
with it the responsibility to learn how to live with bears with
"Helping people understand bear behavior has always been one of
the FWC's primary goals for the festival," Basham said. "If people
who live in bear country understand what makes bears tick, they
will know what they can do to discourage bears from causing
problems in their homes and communities."
The festival is presented by Defenders of Wildlife, the U.S.
Forest Service, the city of Umatilla, the FWC and the Umatilla
Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the 12th annual
Florida Black Bear Festival, call 352-669-3511 or visit http://umatillachamber.org/BlackBearFest.