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.
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!’
- 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
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.