Be #BearWise this Spring
While we are staying at home to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, bears and other wildlife remain out and about. Bears are more active in spring, and there are important steps you can take to help prevent conflicts with these animals.
Bears are currently looking for food, and they prefer an easy meal, so it's important to remove or secure food sources such as garbage, bird seed, and pet food that may attract them to your yard. This helps ensure bears will not linger in your neighborhood. If they can’t find food, they’ll move on.
During this time of year, female bears are raising their cubs, and teaching them where to find food. You can help ensure a positive future for these young bears by making sure they don’t learn bad habits and associate your home as place to find an easy meal.
To keep bears away from your home and neighborhood, follow these simple tips:
- Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
- Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
- Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
- Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
- Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash be kept secure from bears.
- Feed pets indoors or bring in leftover food and dishes after feeding outdoors.
- Clean grills and store them in a secure place.
- Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
- Pick ripe fruit from trees and bushes and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
Remember: it is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears and cause human-bear conflicts.
While black bears generally are not aggressive, they have injured people in Florida. Never intentionally approach any bear. When walking dogs, keep them close to you – preferably on a non-retractable leash – and be aware of your surroundings. Dogs can trigger defensive behaviors from bears, especially females with cubs.
During this unprecedented time, the FWC is continuing to provide support to the public in resolving wildlife conflicts to ensure public safety. If you are experiencing conflicts with bears or other wildlife, call one of the FWC’s five regional offices.
If you feel threatened by a bear or want to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
More information is available at MyFWC.com/Bear.