Contact between bears and people have been increasing, according to Florida Fish & Wildlife officials. That's despite a controversial hunt in October 2015, held in an attempt to stabilize Florida's growing black bear population.
The hunt resulted in about 300 of the state's estimated 3,000 bears being taken. Since the hunt, bears are still being spotted on residential properties throughout the state, such as Golden Gate Estates in Collier County.
"We think that's primarily due to loss of habitat," said Amber Crooks, of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples. "We've been seeing a lot of habitat being eaten up by development."
An FWC official told FOx 4 that the bear hunt last fall wasn't designed to reduce human conflicts with bears. FWC had hoped about 80 bears would be taken in Southwest Florida during the hunt. Instead, only 22 were taken in the area.
Crooks recommends following FWC's advice: secure your trash in locked containers, and avoid leaving pet food in your yard or lanai - bears can easily crash through the screen.
"Because if a bear is attracted to their yard, due to bird feeders or trash or pet food, that bear could become a habituated nuisance bear," Crooks said.
In 2015, 108 bears nuisance bears were trapped and euthanized in Florida.