Latest Polk Bear Sighting Educational Moment

There was another bear sighting in an urban area of Polk County Monday in a neighborhood in northeast Winter Haven between Lake Martha and Lake Elbert.

This is the latest in a series of recent bear sightings in Polk County that have occurred in the Winter Haven area since 2004, when a bear was treed in Inwood. There have also been reports in the past couple of years from the Dave nport and Poinciana areas as bear populations recover and young bears head out looking for unoccupied territories.

Many of the bear sightings in eastern Polk County involve bears dispersing along the Lake Wales Ridge from a population in southern Highlands and northern Glades counties.

Sightings in northwest Polk County, such as the ones at Colt Creek State Park, probably involve bears from Withlacoochee State Forest.

So what do you do if you see a bear in your yard or anywhere else?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers advice on human-bear encounters.

It also provides information for living in areas where bears are more likely to be present.

Generally, FWC officials advise not deliberately (that’s a crime) or inadvertently providing food sources for bears, which have a strong sense of smell.

Also, as with any wildlife, give them space so they can move away from where you are.

FWC staffers set up a baited cage in the yard near the tree where the bear was seeking refuge in hopes of luring it down whenever it became hungry and moving it to a safer, less stressful location.

If you would like to learn more about bears in Florida, FWC has a lot of information on its website.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.