BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is reminding residents to be aware during summer months as young bears are making their first steps into the world.
The FWC states that juvenile young black bears around the age of one and a half to two and a half years start leaving their mothers’ home ranges in search of their own homes during the spring and summer.
While black bears are generally not aggressive, the FWC cautions that if they feel threatened, they can become defensive.
Officials state that when walking dogs or other pets, keep them close to you and be aware of your surroundings. If you let them out at night, flip lights on or off and bang on the door to give wildlife a chance to leave the area.
If you have bears in your area, FWC suggests you follow these additional BearWise® Basics to help prevent conflicts with bears:
- Never feed or approach bears
- Feeding bears can make them lose their natural fear of people.
- It is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears and cause conflicts.
- Getting close to a wild animal is dangerous.
- Secure food and garbage
- Store garbage in a sturdy shed or garage and then put it out on the morning of pick rather than the night before.
- If not stored in a secured building, modify your existing garbage can to make it more bear-resistant, or use a bear-resistant container.
- Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
- Protect gardens, beehives, compost, and livestock with electric fencing.
- Pick ripe fruit from trees and bushes and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
- Remove or secure bird and wildlife feeders.
- Remove wildlife feeders.
- If wildlife feeders are left up, only put enough food out for wildlife to finish eating before dark and make feeders bear-resistant.
- Never leave pet food outdoors.
- Feed pets indoors.
- If feeding pets outdoors, only put food outside for short time periods and bring in leftover food and dishes after each feeding.
- Clean and store grills.
- Clean and degrease grills and smokers after each use.
- If mobile, store them in a secure shed or garage.
- Alert neighbors to bear activity.
- If you see a bear, let your neighbors know.
- Share tips on how to avoid conflicts with bears.
- Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash to be kept secure.
Having conflicts with bears? Call one of the FWC’s five regional offices. Go to MyFWC.com/Contact, and click on “Contact Regional Offices” to find the phone number for your region. If you 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).