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If a bear is threatening the safety of humans, pets or livestock, or causing property damage, contact FWC.

Bears are wild animals and must be respected. Even though they are typically quiet and shy animals, they have the potential to seriously harm or kill people. Do not take unnecessary risks!  While bear attacks on people are extremely rare in Florida, people have been bitten and scratched by bears defending themselves, cubs, or food sources (Table 1).

Human/Bear Encounters

When wildlife feels threatened by people, they typically try to tell us to back off in their own way.  For example, a rattlesnake rattles its tail and an alligator opens its mouth and hisses. 

If a bear feels threatened, they may clack their teeth together, moan, blow, huff, or stomp the ground. They may bluff charge (run toward you and then stop before reaching you).  These are all ways the bear is showing you it is as uncomfortable with the situation and it wants you to give it some space. These are NOT indications of aggressive intent or an imminent attack. Truly predatory or aggressive black bears are rare and generally silent.

Guide to Bear Behavior Levels

If you see a bear from a distance:

  • Enjoy the experience, but do not move toward the bear, if your presence changes the bear's behavior you are too close 

If you encounter a bear at close range:

  • Remain standing upright
  • Speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice
  • Back up slowly toward a secure area, be sure you are leaving the bear a clear escape route
  • Avoid direct eye contact - bears and other animals may view this as aggressive behavior
  • Stop and hold your ground if your movement away seems to irritate instead of calm the bear

  DO NOT:

  • Make any sudden or abrupt movements
  • Run - running can trigger a chase instinct and bears can sprint up to 35 mph
  • Play dead - black bears eat things that play dead or are dead
  • Climb a tree - black bears can climb 100 feet up a tree in 30 seconds 
  • Approach or surprise a bear, especially one that may be injured 

If a black bear attacks you:

  • Fight back aggressively. People have successfully fended off black bear attacks using rocks, sticks, or even their bare hands!

Table 1. Documented incidents of physical contact between a person and a black bear in Florida (excludes vehicle strikes).

Date City County Region Description of Bear Dog Involved

9/10/2022

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Unknown

Yes

7/12/2022

Fort Walton Beach

Okaloosa

Northwest

Unknown

Yes

5/2/2022

Hog Valley

Marion

Northeast

Unknown

Yes

4/26/2022

Altoona

Lake

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

4/4/2022

Fort Walton Beach

Okaloosa

Northwest

Adult Female with Young

Yes

1/22/2022

Altoona

Lake

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

1/19/2022

Daytona Beach

Volusia

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

1/13/2022

DeBary

Volusia

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

11/3/2020

Fort Braden

Leon

Northwest

Adult Female with Young

Yes

3/31/2020

Ocala

Marion

Northeast

Adult Male

No

9/10/2019

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

3/30/2019

Deland

Volusia

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

No

12/24/2018

Fort McCoy

Marion

Northeast

Unknown

No

5/14/2018

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

1/9/2018

Naples

Collier

South

Adult Female with Young

Yes

9/8/2017

Santa Rosa Beach

Walton

Northwest

Unknown

Yes

1/28/2017

Gulf Breeze

Santa Rosa

Northwest

Adult Female with Young

Yes

1/29/2016

Apopka

Orange

Northeast

Unknown

Yes

10/23/2015

Eastpoint

Franklin

Northwest

Adult Female with Young

No

10/5/2015

Orange City

Volusia

Northeast

Unknown

Yes

8/27/2015

Shalimar

Okaloosa

Northwest

Unknown

No

12/21/2014

Eastpoint

Franklin

Northwest

Adult Female with Young

Yes

12/3/2014

Lake Mary

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

4/12/2014

Lake Mary

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

No

12/2/2013

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

3/16/2012

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

Yes

7/7/2011

Tyndall AFB

Bay

Northwest

Unknown

No

12/10/2009

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

No

9/19/2009

Mt. Dora

Lake

Northeast

Adult Female with Young

No

7/24/2009

Longwood

Seminole

Northeast

Adult Male

Yes

7/12/2009

Ft. Myers

Lee

Northeast

Unknown

No

2008

Naples

Collier

South

Unknown

No

11/14/2007

Astor

Lake

Northeast

Unknown

Yes

2007

Paisley

Lake

Northeast

Unknown

No

1/5/2006

Paisley

Lake

Northeast

Unknown

No

2006

Hog Valley

Marion

Northeast

Unknown

No