bears

Watch out for that bear!

State wildlife officials are advising motorists to watch out for hungry bears — on the road.

The latest video from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, designed to educate Floridians on how to avoid conflicts with black bears, focuses on what motorists can do to avoid driving into the path of the wandering creatures.

“Bears are most active around dusk and dawn, and therefore most vehicle-bear collisions happen during these times of day,” the commission noted. “To reduce the risk of hitting a bear, motorists should stay alert and drive cautiously around heavily wooded areas, roads with curves and areas marked with bear warning signs.”


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/235622570″>Vehicle Collisions with Bears</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/myfwc”>My FWC</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The video — “Collisions with Bears“ — specifically notes that motorists should take extra caution when traveling in or around the Ocala National Forest in Lake and Marion counties, where about half the incidents resulting in the death of a bear occur.

In 2016, the state recorded 231 bears killed by vehicles in Florida, down from 248 in 2015 and 245 in 2014. In 2012, when bears were removed from the state’s list of threatened species, 285 bears were killed on Florida’s roads. 

The state agency started rolling out the videos nearly a year ago as a means to help people get along with black bears in large part by teaching people how to avoid interacting with the lumbering animals.

The agency, which has backed down from bear hunts for the past few years, has $515,000 to match with local government funding to help people and businesses buy bear-resistant trash cans and hardware and to have modified dumpsters. The amount is down from $825,000 last year.

Roughly 4,000 black bears are estimated to live in Florida, from the forests of Southwest Florida through the Panhandle.

By Jim Turner.

Wildlife officials: Scare that bear!

Florida’s wildlife officials are using the movies to help people get along with black bears and also to keep away from backyards.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission released two videos aimed at educating residents about black bears, which have been a source of controversy over the past few years, and providing pointers about what to do if they have a face-to-face encounter with the lumbering creatures.

Some of the tips include a padlock to keep trash cans in a wooden cage off-limits to predators.

Others suggest using devices like the “Critter Gitter” — product placement? — that are activated when they detect a bear.

Of course, there’s always the old standard: Run.

The video doesn’t EXACTLY recommend running, but it does advise people to hightail it indoors or into a car, if possible, once a bear is spotted.

Once you’re safe, that’s the time to “scare the bear,” using whistles, car horns or pots and pans.

The 4- and 5- minute videos from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are part of  ongoing efforts to reduce conflicts between bears and humans.

One video, called “Bear Behavior,” addresses the habitat of bears and describes how to react when encountering a bear in the wild. Tips include speaking in an assertive voice and backing away slowly.

The other video, “Scare the Bear,” gets into when those bear behavior tips are not enough.

“It’s probably the opposite of what you might think,” the video states.

 If you see a bear from a safe distance, first get inside a secured location, make sure the bear has a clear escape route, and only then make some noise to let the bear know  you’re there, the video advises.

“The No. 1 cause of conflict with bears is unsecured trash and other attractants, such as pet food, barbecue grills and birdseed,” said Dave Telesco, who leads the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Bear Management Program. “As bears spend more time in neighborhoods, they begin to lose their natural fear of people, which can lead to dangerous encounters. These videos highlight steps that can be taken to ensure the safety of both bears and humans.”

 The agency, which has held off efforts to hold bear hunts the past couple of years, has $515,000 to match with local government funding to help people and businesses buy bear-resistant trash cans and hardware to secure regular trash cans and to have modified dumpsters. The amount is down from $825,000 last year.

Roughly 4,000 black bears are estimated to live in Florida, from the forests of Southwest Florida through the Panhandle.

By Jim Turner.