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Bear Aware

Help keep bears wild!


roadway style sign showing bearsInterested in a bear resistant garbage container?  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers a comprehensive listing of bear-resistant products.

As the human population of Central Florida has increased, so have our interactions with black bears — sometimes with unfortunate results. Many bears have become so used to our presence in their world they have lost their natural wariness of us. Reward this behavior with something to eat even once, and we end up with bears that associate us with food. Such bears will aggressively seek handouts and follow their noses to developed areas for the unnatural sustenance we unwittingly provide for them in the form of garbage, compost piles, pet food, livestock feed, fruit trees, vegetable gardens, bird seed and other items found near our residences. In pursuit of an easy meal, these bears can damage property and injure people.

Curious, intelligent, and very resourceful, black bears will explore all possible food sources. If they find food near homes, campgrounds, vehicles, or communities, they’ll come back for more. Bears will work hard to get the calories they need, but like most animals, bears are interested in finding the most calories they can for the least amount of work.

Bears that have been rewarded with an easy meal for poking their nose into someone’s bird feeder, garbage can or garage will often investigate any similar food sources in their home range. If they find food they will return repeatedly until they are convinced there is no longer the possibility of more food. If they are not rewarded with food they will move on. So, get in the habit of being bear-responsible. It’s like recycling – at first it’s a little extra effort, but soon it becomes a better way to live. Sending bears on their way empty-pawed helps protect your home and property, and teaches the bear a lesson that could save its life

Deterrents can be useful in areas where bears have already learned that where there are people, there is usually easy to get at food. The purpose of a deterrent is to make your home less attractive and persuade an exploring bear to move on. The best deterrent of all is to make sure there’s nothing at your home or on your property to attract bears in the first place, such as:

  • Do not leave garbage cans outside.
  • Rinse empty food containers and wrappers; place in plastic bags to seal in odors.
  • Bleach trash containers regularly.
  • Avoid odorous materials in garbage until pick-up day.
  • Keep these “smelly” items in the freezer or wrap securely in newspaper with a few mothballs to mask odors and place in plastic before discarding.
  • Don’t discard cooking grease in your yard. Collect in a glass, plastic or metal container with a lid. When ready to dispose of it seal tightly in plastic.
  • Refrain from feeding birds during the months when bears are active.
  • If you don’t want to stop feeding birds, hang your feeders at least ten feet off the ground and ten feet away from anything bears can climb.
  • Keep the area underneath feeders clean and free of bird seed and hulls, or switch to a hulled bird seed with no waste.
  • Bears like to sniff, claw, sample or rub certain aromatic woods such as cedar or pine and petroleum products including tarpaper, paint turpentine, kerosene, rubber, and charcoal fluid. Store these items in a secured place.

This is just a small sampling of deterrent ideas. For additional ideas and more in-depth information visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website to review all of their bear related brochures, flyers and videos. Included in the information they provide is their Living in Bear Country brochure, fact sheets for bear-proofing tips, bear resistant container data and other helpful information to help live with, vacation near, conserve, and enjoy our native black bear, the only species of bear found in Florida.

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    123 W. Indiana Ave.
    DeLand, FL 32720
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