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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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June 6, 2024

Photos available Suggested post: Juvenile #bears are leaving their mothers’ home ranges. Give
them space & remove food attractants to reduce conflicts:
accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/3a10dc4 @MyFWC #Florida

montage of bears, crossing highway w/bear crossing signe, sow & cub, in crook of tree
Bears in unexpected places and what you should do

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is sharing the annual reminder that
juvenile black bears might be seen in unexpected areas as they leave their mothers’ home ranges in
search of new locations of their own to settle down. Spring also marks a general increase in activity
for bears after limited movements in winter. 

“Juvenile or yearling bears – between the ages of 1½ -2½ – start dispersing in spring and summer
each year,” said the FWC’s Bear Management Program Coordinator, Mike Orlando. “The best
thing people can do if they see a bear in an unexpected area is to give them plenty of space and to
never approach or feed them and they will typically move along on their own.”   

During this time of year, black bear sightings increase in suburban and urban areas, including in cities
such as Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville and others around the state. Seeing a bear in a neighborhood
is not necessarily cause for alarm. However, it is important that people secure food attractants so that
bears do not linger in the area. Generally, if a bear is not able to find food and is given space, it will
move on. Feeding bears can make them lose their natural fear of people. It is also illegal in Florida
to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears. 

Black bears are not generally aggressive, but like any wild animal, if they feel threatened, can become
defensive. Dogs have been involved in over half of the incidents of people being injured by bears in
Florida. When walking dogs, keep them close to you – ideally on a non-retractable leash – and be
aware of your surroundings, which is good practice for preventing conflicts with any wildlife. Before
letting your dog out at night in your yard, flip lights on and off and bang on the door to give bears and
other wildlife a chance to leave the area. 

As bears become more active this time of year, they cross more roadways. For your own safety and to
avoid hitting bears and other wildlife, remember to slow down when driving, particularly on rural high-
ways at dawn or dusk. Watch for road signs identifying bear crossing areas. Each year in Florida, an
average of 300 bears are killed after being hit by vehicles.

If you have bears in your area, follow these additional BearWise® tips to help prevent conflicts with

Secure food and garbage.

-Store garbage in a sturdy shed or garage and then put it out on the morning of pickup rather than the
night before.
-If not stored in a secured building, modify your existing garbage can to make it more bear-resistant
or use a bear-resistant container.
-Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
-Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
-Pick ripe fruit from trees and bushes and remove fallen fruit from the ground.

Remove or secure bird and wildlife feeders.

-Remove wildlife feeders.
-If wildlife feeders are left up, only put enough food out for wildlife to finish eating before dark and
make feeders bear-resistant.

Never leave pet food outdoors.

-Feed pets indoors.
-If feeding pets outdoors, only put food outside for short time periods and bring in leftover food and
dishes after each feeding.

Clean and store grills.

-Clean and degrease grills and smokers after each use.
-If mobile, store them in a secure shed or garage.

Alert neighbors to bear activity.

-If you see a bear, let your neighbors know.
-Share tips on how to avoid conflicts with bears.
-Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to
require trash be kept secure.

Having conflicts with bears? FWC staff are here to help — call the FWC regional office closest to
you. To find the phone number for your region, go to, and click on “Contact
Regional Offices.” 

If you spot an injured, orphaned or dead bear, feel threatened by a bear, or to report someone who is
either harming bears or intentionally feeding them, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-
FWCC (3922). 

More information is available at, where you can access the “Guide to Living in
Bear Country” brochure. Find additional ways to be BearWise at Thirty-nine states,
including Florida, support BearWise®, an innovative program that helps people learn ways to responsibly
live around bears. Help us help bears and other wildlife by purchasing the Conserve Wildlife license plate

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Logo

Contact the FWC

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission ·
620 S. Meridian Street ·
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 ·
(850) 488-4676 GovDelivery logo
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