Become Bearwise This Fall To Avoid Problems, Property Damage

Florida Black Bears are on the prowl for extra calories in fall to prepare for leaner times in winter.

Although bear sightings are uncommon in Polk and primarily confined to the area along the Lake Wales Ridge, they are encountered fairly regularly in more rural sections of Highlands County. But bears are wide-ranging animals and could appear anywhere.

Their travels could bring them to your garbage can or bird feeder and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is offering tips to reduce the chance that bears could cause problems for you or your property.

The top advice is not to leave food—include pet food dishes—anywhere where it might attract bears and make sure your garbage containers are secured. Commercial garbage containers should be bear-resistant.

Also, never feed a bear or leave food for them. This is both illegal and unwise because it could make them lose some of their natural fear of humans. In addition, it is unnecessary because there is usually enough wild food such as acorns and berries available for bears to consume.

You should also take down bird feeders if you are aware bears and in the area. FWC officials also advise people to degrease and clean grills and smokers and store them indoors if possible.

If you see a bear, do not approach it. Bears normally will not attack humans. Nevertheless, if you see a bear, let your neighbors know and work with neighbors to avoid attracting bears.

Also, be alert for bears crossing roads, especially around dawn and dusk in rural areas where you may see bear crossing signs.

Go to for additional information on living in bear country. Additionally, contact your regional FWC office to report anyone harming bears or intentionally feeding them.


Posted in Group Conservation Issues.