News Releases

FWC releases information in wildlife-feeding case

News Release

Friday, June 20, 2014

Media contact: Greg Workman, 352-239-2763

Today the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) provided updates regarding bears in Seminole County.

After a black bear attack on April 12 in a Lake Mary neighborhood, the FWC was notified about alleged feeding of wildlife.

FWC staff investigated and determined that one subject in the neighborhood and two others in a nearby town were intentionally feeding bears and other animals. Investigators worked with the State Attorney’s Office of Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit to charge Eugene D. Cifers (DOB 10/25/50) of Lake Mary and Corey D. Zeak (DOB 02/11/86) and Lori E. Clem (DOB 12/10/84), both of Longwood, for violating Florida Administrative Code 68A-4.001 and Florida Statute 379.401(2)(a)4,(2)(b)1.

These are second-degree misdemeanors. Today Cifers pleaded not guilty; his case will be revisited in July. Clem and Zeak pleaded no contest, and each was sentenced to the following:

  • 6 months probation, with the condition that they may not feed wildlife;
  • a $200 payment to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert program;
  • 25 hours of community service.

After the mid-April attack, the FWC had to put down several bears in the Lake Mary area due to public safety risks because these bears demonstrated they were overly habituated to people and human-provided food. DNA samples taken from one of these bears matched samples collected from the clothing of the woman who had been attacked in this area.

There are several ways to reduce the chances of human-bear conflicts. People should secure garbage until the morning of pickup and not allow pet food, bird seed or other food items to be left out overnight. Most importantly, residents should never intentionally feed bears.

“People who feed bears don’t realize the serious results of their actions,” said FWC Bear Management Program Coordinator Dave Telesco. “Feeding bears may reduce their natural fear of people, which can lead to someone getting seriously injured and bears being killed.”

People with any information regarding the intentional feeding of bears should contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Those who supply relevant information may be eligible for a reward, and they can remain anonymous.

FWC Facts:
The FWC currently maintains over 200 boat ramps and access sites, with new sites being added each year.

Learn More at AskFWC