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National BearWise Program

The BearWise® program helps people live responsibly with black bears.

Keep Bears Wild, Be BearWise

Are bears spending too much time in your community? Consider becoming BearWise and minimize negative interactions! By securing garbage, you can minimize bears lingering in the community. 

BearWise: A Commitment and a Way of Life

When people intentionally or inadvertently feed bears, both people and bears lose. BearWise communities commit to learning to coexist with bears, knowing when and how to report bear activity, and securing all potential food sources. The Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies aims to prevent human-bear conflicts to protect people and bears across the 15 states of the Southeastern U.S. with a BearWise webpage. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission passed a statewide resolution in 2015 highlighting the importance of securing attractants.

BearWise Works! 

There are at least 19 communities  throughout North America who have successfully reduced human-bear conflicts by adopting BearWise practices. Several Florida communities have done the same.

FWC Waste Management Resolution

Waste Management, Inc. MOU

Benefits of BearWise

Human-bear interactions have increased significantly in the last decade in Florida. The FWC can assist communities in becoming BearWise.

Why be BearWise?  The most important reason to be BearWise is to protect people and bears. However, being BearWise can also protect your local community organization (e.g. HOA, city, county) from being held liable if a person is injured by a bear. Bears that come into neighborhoods and get rewarded with easily accessible food begin to lose their natural fear of people.  Once a bear spends more and more of its time in a neighborhood, its chances of survival drop as it is more exposed to vehicle strikes, illegal shooting, or trapping and removal by the FWC to protect public safety.

Remember, ‘a fed bear is a dead bear!’ 

BearWise communities:

  • Report fewer human-bear conflicts
  • Increase confidence of their residents in enjoying the outdoors in their neighborhoods
  • Attract fewer raccoons, rodents, and other wildlife which can be vectors of disease
  • Respond more effectively to wildlife encounters
  • Receive recognition for high standards of safety and prevention of human-bear conflicts

Become Bearwise

BearWise Cost Share Funding

Since 2007, a total of $2.1 million of BearWise funding has been provided to local governments. Over $1.4 million of this was provided with support from the Legislature and Gov. Scott and $680,000 from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida using proceeds of the Conserve Wildlife license plate.

The FWC is no longer offering BearWise cost-share funding.

Review the BearWise Funding FAQs  to learn more.

Fiscal Year 2016 - 2017 BearWise Funding Summary Table 

Fiscal Year 2017 - 2018 BearWise Funding Summary Table

Fiscal Year 2018 - 2019 BearWise Funding Summary Table