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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
May 30, 2023 Photos available Suggested Tweet: Juvenile #bears are leaving their mothers’ home
ranges. Give them space & remove food attractants to reduce conflicts: @MyFWC #Florida juvenile bear in tree
Seeing bears in unexpected areas? What you should do: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) is sharing the reminder that juvenile black bears are starting to leave their mothers’
home ranges in search of new homes of their own. Between the ages of 1½ -2½ years, juvenile or
yearling bears start dispersing in spring and summer, with spring marking a return to activity for bears
after limited movements in winter. During this time, juvenile bears may be seen in unexpected areas as
they travel across a wide range of areas in search of a new location to settle down.

In recent weeks, bears have wandered into Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville.

“The most important thing people can do to help these bears is to leave them alone,” said the FWC’s
Bear Management Program Coordinator, Mike Orlando. “Give them plenty of space and let them
move along on their own.”  

Black bears are generally not aggressive but, like any wild animal, if they feel threatened, they can
become defensive. Dogs have been involved in over half of the incidents of people getting injured by
bears in Florida. When walking dogs, keep them close to you – preferably on a non-retractable leash –
and be aware of your surroundings, which is good practice for preventing conflicts with both bears
and other wildlife. Before letting your dog out at night, 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
highways at dawn or dusk. Watch for road signs identifying bear crossing areas. Each year in Florida,
an average of 250 bears are killed after being hit by vehicles.

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

1: Never feed or approach bears
-Feeding bears can make them lose their natural fear of people.
-It is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears
and cause conflicts.
-Getting close to a wild animal is dangerous.

2: 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.

3: 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.

4: 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.

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

6: 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? Call one of the FWC’s five regional offices.
-Go to, and click on “Contact Regional Offices” to find the phone number
for your region.
-If you want 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-eight 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 at

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Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission · 620 S. Meridian Street · Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 ·
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