Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

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.