NICEVILLE, Fla. – Fall is approaching and that means Florida black bears are traveling and searching for food. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds those living in Niceville and surrounding areas to help protect both people and bears by securing garbage and other items that could attract these animals to your yard or neighborhood.
Each fall, bears begin eating a lot more calories to pack on fat they will need during the winter. Throughout the fall, bears require around 20,000 calories per day and will eat anything that’s convenient, including items in your garbage.
Food scraps found in the garbage are convenient and provide a bear more calories in less time than foraging in the woods. Reduce conflicts with these animals by securing your trash and other food attractants, such as bird feeders and pet food.
To keep bears wild and away from your home, follow these BearWise tips:
- Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
- Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
- Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
- Protect gardens, bee yards, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
- Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute ordinances to require trash be secured from bears.
- Feed pets indoors or bring the dishes in after feeding.
- Be aware when walking your dog and use a non-retractable leash.
- Clean grills and store them in a secure place.
- Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
- Remove wildlife and bird feeders or make them bear-resistant.
See how-to videos and information on securing attractants in the “Brochures and Videos” section at MyFWC.com/Bear.
It is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or to leave out food or garbage that will attract bears and cause human-bear conflicts. If you see or suspect that someone is feeding or attracting bears, please call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).
You can also help people and bears stay safe by remembering to watch for bears while driving. This time of year, bears are traveling across more roads in search of food, which results in more vehicle-bear collisions.
The FWC advises drivers to be aware of their surroundings as they drive in bear country, especially around dusk and dawn, and when there is forest on both sides of the road.
If you see a bear crossing sign, pay particular attention as this area has had frequent vehicle-bear collisions. To learn more about how to keep people and bears safe on Florida roadways, see the “Vehicle Collisions with Bears” video at the “Brochures and Videos” section of MyFWC.com/Bear.