Here’s how to prevent hungry bears from invading your yard
FORT MYERS, Fla. — As the weather begins to get warmer, more bears will come out of their winter dens and search for food.
Visitors and residents of Florida can do their part to reduce negative interactions with bears and other wildlife.
Secure trash, petfood, birdfeeders and other food items that could attract a bear to your yard or neighborhood. If you don’t give them a reason to stay, they’ll move on,” Dave Telesco, director of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Bear Management Program, said.
Female bears give birth to cubs near the end of January and are expected to be walking around with their young that can now weigh around 5 to 10 pounds.
As the cubs grow, the family unit will travel further and likely run into humans more often.
Bears may also increase the number of roads they cross as they travel with their cubs. Slow down when driving, particularly on rural highways at dawn or dusk, and watch for road signs identifying bear crossing areas.
It’s important to note that although black bears are generally not aggressive, they have injured people in Florida. You should never intentionally approach any bear.
When walking dogs, be sure to keep them on a non-retractable leash and close to you. Dogs can trigger defensive behaviors from mama bears — especially when cubs are around.
To keep bears away from your home and neighborhood, here’s what you can do:
- Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage, or wildlife-resistant container.
- Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
- Modify your existing garbage can to make it more bear-resistant.
- 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.
It is illegal in Florida to harm, intentionally feed bears, or leave out food that will attract bears and cause conflicts with humans.
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).
CLICK HERE for a guide that gives tips to people living in bear country.
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