Florida's black bears are on the move this spring

NAPLES, Fla. - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding the public to be aware that bears are becoming more active this time of year.

"Bears have emerged from their winter denning sites," said FWC bear biologist Sarah Peltier.

She said that while June is the start of mating season for Florida's black bears, they're now on the prowl for something to eat - and they love easy meals they can find in trash cans.

"When bears become habituated, meaning that they're used to human sources for food, coming to trash cans, they lose their natural fear of humans which then poses a public safety risk," Peltier said.

She said that people living in areas where bears are often spotted would be smart to use bear-resistant trash cans. 

"If we've got a whole street or whole neighborhood that's got these bear-resistant cans, then we can ensure that we probably won't have bear conflict issues there," Peltier said.

She also reminds the public not to leave bird feeders or pet food dishes out where bears can get to them, and to clean outdoor grills - preferably keeping locked in a garage or shed when not in use.

Peltier said that if you ever do encounter a bear: stand your ground. Running makes a bear think you are prey, and they will give chase.

"Raise your hands above your head and wave your arms and say 'hey bear' in a loud powerful voice," she said. "You want to make yourself look bigger."


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