Mark your calendar for the Florida Black Bear Festival
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) is once again a proud partner in the Umatilla
Black Bear Festival, an event dedicated to helping people
understand and live in harmony with the fascinating Florida black
The family-oriented festival, now in its 11th year,
is scheduled for Saturday, March 27, from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. at
Cadwell Park in Umatilla. It's free and is a great way for families
to spend a few hours together doing something fun and educational
at the same time.
New this year is a contest to design a practical,
bear-resistant garbage container. The top three winners will each
get $100 gift cards to Lowe's and be recognized on the FWC's
FWC biologists will give informative and
entertaining programs about black bears and living in bear country.
At 10:30 a.m., wildlife biologist Tom Shupe will discuss
interactions between bears and people and how to ensure a positive
and safe experience. At 12:30 p.m., wildlife biologist Andrea
Boliek will give an exciting presentation about "the bear
facts." Learn about different species of bear, and
myth-versus-fact about the black bear.
And finally, at 2 p.m., join the FWC's bear
management coordinator, David Telesco, for a talk about bear
behavior and the science and techniques used to discover the
secrets of a bear's life.
Meanwhile, deep in the Ocala National Forest, FWC
bear research biologists Walter McCown and Brian Scheick will lead
field-trip participants through natural bear habitat and explain a
bit of bruin natural history. Field trips begin at 9:30 a.m. and
will be repeated every hour. The bus for the last field trip leaves
the festival grounds at 1:30 p.m.
Back at the festival grounds, the FWC is proud to
introduce a new activity for children of all ages called "Come Be a
Bear!" This is an interactive journey through the seasons
that helps children experience how a black bear really lives in the
wild. See what a bear likes to eat, how it prepares for the winter
and what its den is like.
FWC biologists will be on hand to answer all your
bear-related questions. In addition, they'll present a buffet of
bear cuisine - both the healthy, natural kind and the
problem-causing kind only humans can provide. Learn the
difference and be surprised at some of the things bears will eat
and how biologists know.
The FWC will also display examples of
bear-resistant garbage cans, an electric fence, a wildlife feeder
and a trap used to capture bears.
There will be plenty of literature about bears and
other wildlife, and the very popular FWC traveling exhibit trailer
will be on hand with its wildlife diorama display.
"Our goal is for festival-goers to learn everything
they always wanted to know about the Florida black bear, and have
fun while they learn," said Jessica Basham, the FWC's bear festival
Central Florida boasts the highest density of bears
in the state and can truly be called bear country. But that
distinction brings with it the responsibility to learn how to live
with bears with minimal conflict.
"Helping people understand bear behavior has always
been one of the FWC's primary goals for the festival," Basham said.
"If people who live in bear country understand what makes bears
tick, they will know what they can do to discourage bears from
causing problems in their homes and communities."
The festival is presented by Defenders of Wildlife,
the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Umatilla, the FWC and the
Umatilla Chamber of Commerce. For more information about the 11th
annual Umatilla Black Bear Festival and details about the
bear-resistant garbage can contest, call 352-669-3511 or visit http://umatillachamber.org/BlackBearFest/.