110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
FWC says protect yourself and bears
By Pat Andrews
posted Sep 25, 2012 - 1:45:33pm
One of the first intimations of fall is already here in Volusia County and throughout Central Florida: increased bear activity.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officials said they are getting more reports of Florida black bears sitting along roadways or in neighborhoods. The bears aren’t sick, as some callers feared, but they are eating — sitting and stuffing themselves with acorns or whatever food is available — to prepare themselves for winter.
Bears require around 25,000 calories a day for this fortification.
“The easier it is to get, the better they like it,” FWC spokeswoman Joy Hill said.
West Volusia is bear country. Even if you don’t spot a bear, there’s likely one living nearby, and it is easily drawn to food provided by people, whether by accident or on purpose.
“Many people who finally call to complain about a bear tell us they like the bears coming around and don’t mind picking up the garbage, or letting the bears eat the pet food. They just don’t like it when the same bears walk into garages, break into screen rooms or hover around school bus stops,” FWC biologist Susan Carroll-Douglas said. “When the bears do these things in search of more food, the people want them gone.”
Residents have a responsibility to foil bears’ attempts to get food from residential areas. Don’t leave garbage, bird feeders or pet food where bears can get to them.
Discourage bears from visiting your house by making a racket. Sounding car horns or air horns, banging pots and pans, using noisemakers and yelling can all be effective. It’s also imperative to get rid of or securely store any source of food that would keep a bear coming back for more.
“Allowing bears to eat and hang around can mean potential injury to humans and near certain death for bears,” Carroll-Douglas said.
FWC bear specialist Mike Orlando agreed.
“We’ve had three or four incidents in the past couple of years in our area where bears have bitten or scratched humans,” he said. “Every single case involved human-provided food, and in the situations where we were able to catch the bear, we had to kill it.”
That’s not only a loss of a wild creature, but it’s traumatic for the officials whose normal duties are to protect wildlife.
FWC spokeswoman Hill suggested people read an article written by District Wildlife Manager Chris Parmeter of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, published with the permission of durango.herald.com. Read: “Problem bear dies; I hold the smoking gun.”
Parmeter describes his last encounter with a bear he had known first as a cub. The encounter was the result of homeowners who did nothing to discourage the bear’s visits until the bear became a menace.
“This piece exactly expresses what we experience every day in Florida,” Hill said. “I could not have written this more eloquently, or in a more moving manner myself.”
For more information about bears and how to discourage them, call the FWC Northeast Regional Office in Ocala at 352-732-1225, or get tips online at MyFWC.com/Bear.
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