News Releases

FWC works with partners on waste management to reduce human-bear conflicts

News Release

Thursday, September 03, 2015

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

To reduce human-bear conflicts, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working with multiple partners to achieve a comprehensive approach to dealing with waste management issues related to black bears.

FWC Commissioners at their Sept. 2 meeting in Fort Lauderdale were updated by staff on cooperative efforts underway to work with local governments and waste management companies to help residents secure their garbage and prevent bears from using it as a food source.

The FWC identified 14 counties with the highest level of human-bear conflicts that will be the focus of “Bear Wise” efforts like securing waste, educating residents and businesses, and responding appropriately to bears in communities. Human-bear conflict calls in Florida have increased by 400 percent over the past decade.

“It’s important we’re all working together united with the 14 counties in moving forward on bear-proof containers,” Commissioner Ron Bergeron said. “We can live with bears in sustainable populations. We can reduce bear conflicts by up to 95 percent in Florida. We have to be responsible, all of us.”

The update provided Commissioners and the public with a framework of the approaches that will be used as the FWC moves forward on this issue. The agency plans to finalize its new Waste Management Action Plan, implement the comprehensive approach to waste management and bears, and continue working closely with partners on solutions. Last June, Commissioners signed a Waste Management Resolution and approved a policy paper explaining the need for comprehensive waste management to address human-bear conflicts and improve public safety.

“Our cooperative work with partners in local governments and waste management companies is essential to reducing human-bear conflicts in Florida,” said Dr. Thomas Eason, director of the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “Many partners already are helping by providing accessible, affordable options for residents to secure their garbage from bears. However, we must broaden these efforts in order to maintain public safety and achieve a more sustainable coexistence with the state’s black bear population.”

“In addition to our efforts with waste management, we have worked with our partners to eliminate the harvest of palmetto berries on state lands,” Bergeron said. “These berries are a critical food source for Florida black bears and other wildlife. By having abundant natural food sources in the woods, and eliminating garbage attractants, we can keep bears out of neighborhoods, which will benefit bears and improve human safety.”

Recent changes to the bear feeding rule and penalties are currently in effect. These changes strengthened prohibitions and increased penalties for feeding bears and are part of the FWC’s comprehensive approach to managing human bear interactions.

For more information on how the FWC is working to conserve bears, visit

FWC Facts:
The Florida snail kite is aptly named - it feeds almost exclusively on apple snails and, in the United States, is found only in Florida.

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