News Releases

FWC bear management coordinator receives employee of the year award

News Release

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-251-2130, Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459

David Telesco, bear management program coordinator within the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Habitat and Species Conservation, has received the Chairman Rodney Barreto Employee of the Year Award for his outstanding leadership when dealing with a succession of bear attacks and initiating additional efforts to prevent such attacks. FWC Commissioners presented Telesco with the award at their meeting June 25 in Sarasota.

“While Dave was assisted by many inside and outside of the agency, he was the center of the wheel and had to keep up with all the moving parts,” said Carol Knox, the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section leader. “He excelled in the role and showed how important he is to the FWC team.”

Telesco, an FWC employee since 2008, was recognized for coordinating effective, multifaceted responses to bear attacks on people by focusing on the needs of victims and communities, providing timely information to media and collecting appropriate scientific evidence. A bear attack in December 2013 was followed by three more in 2014, and Telesco had the responsibility of coordinating with staff from multiple areas of the FWC as well as with agencies such as local law enforcement.

In the past year, Telesco also helped develop the FWC’s increased focus on preventing bear-human conflicts that can lead to attacks, which included the need to be adaptive as to how staff respond to bear incidents and the need to increase the pace of implementing the Florida Black Bear Management Plan approved in 2012.

Telesco was commended for being equally committed and involved in the FWC’s accelerated effort to remove habituated bears from neighborhoods, provide additional enforcement options, increase outreach on bear issues, and consider a limited hunt to help manage the bear population.  He was also recognized for his long-term efforts to work with municipalities and neighborhood associations to implement bear resistant garbage cans and other “bear wise” practices to proactively reduce safety risks to the public.

“He has gotten so much accomplished in a short time to implement draft rule revisions, revised policies and procedures and make sure all stakeholders are aware of actions being taken to manage bears,” Knox said. “Dave also contributed his vast knowledge of bear hunting outside of Florida to the team of staff developing the details of the new proposed bear hunt in Florida.”

FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley praised Telesco and his long-term efforts to manage bears in Florida.

“We have an awesome bear team that is spread throughout our agency and Dave is a key player in making that work,” Wiley said. “During the bear attacks that we’ve had, he stepped up and made sure we were adaptive and continued to learn and improve our response. Dave’s approach to his work and level of excellence is another example of what makes FWC great.”

FWC Facts:
Although black bears in western states may have several color phases, all black bears in the eastern United States, including Florida black bears, are black.

Learn More at AskFWC