FWC asks for help in removing tempting bear treats
Monday, May 24, 2010
Media contact: Karen Parker, 386-758-0525
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) is asking for assistance in Citrus County.
FWC wildlife biologists report that over the past
weekend, there have been more than 50 calls regarding a bear near
the River Ranch and the Pine Ridge subdivisions.
Callers have reported that the bear is eating from
bird feeders, drinking from birdbaths, eating fruit off trees and
walking through yards.
"There haven't been any reports of aggression of
any kind," said Rebecca Shelton, FWC wildlife biologist. "In fact,
I've got reports stating the bear was chased off by a house cat at
one property and by a small dog at another. However, we really want
this bear to move on."
It's unlikely the bear will leave unless the food
source is removed. The FWC requests the public's help.
"We need folks in that area to remove the
temptations for the bear. It's staying on the fringes of
residential areas because of the abundance of fruit trees, bird
feeders with suet and seed and birdbaths," Shelton said.
Bears are very opportunistic foragers. They are
attracted to bird feeders because they are easy to access, and the
bird feed is high in protein and calories. They also love fruit and
will forage for fallen fruit and what's left on trees.
"If people would remove these feeders and baths and
pick up fruit that's dropped, as well as pick what they can reach
off trees, there's a good chance the bear will move on," Shelton
said. "The bear weighs between 175 and 200 pounds and is either a
young male or an average-sized female.
"We urge residents to secure attractants such as
bird feeders and garbage. If attractants are secure, there's no
reason for this bear or any others to linger in the neighborhood,"
People often ask why these bears can't simply be relocated to the
woods, where they won't bother anyone.
"Unfortunately, these remote areas are rare in
Florida," Shelton said. "In addition, bears often wander away from
the relocation site and create problems in a new area."
Since the 1980s, the bear population has been
steadily expanding - along with the human population. As a result,
bears and humans are encountering each other more than ever. Calls
to the FWC concerning black bear encounters have increased from 86
in 1989 to more than 3,200 in 2009. Often these calls involve bears
that have been fed by humans, either intentionally or
The mere presence of a black bear does not
necessarily represent a problem. In fact, living in bear country
can provide some unique and rewarding experiences for residents.
However, when black bears have access to pet food, garbage,
birdseed, livestock feed, etc., they learn very quickly to
associate people with food.
"Once they do, they lose their natural fear of
people and may become a nuisance. This can lead to personal injury,
property damage and the need to destroy the problem bears," Shelton
Properly storing or securing residential garbage
and other bear attractants is a proven method for discouraging
bears and preventing nuisance problems around homes, farms and
The following items attract bears and should always
be protected by an electric fence or stored in a secure place, such
as a garage or sturdy shed:
- garbage cans,
- bird feeders,
- pet food,
- squirrel and other wildlife feeders,
- pet food bowls,
- barbecue grills and smokers,
- pets and small livestock such as goats, rabbits, pigs and
- livestock feed,
- compost piles,
- beehives, and
- fruit- and nut-bearing plants and trees.
"Anything that attracts dogs, cats, raccoons and
other animals can also attract bears. People also need to know it's
illegal to intentionally feed black bears in Florida," Shelton
For more information about Florida black bears,
please visit MyFWC.com/Bear.
There is a homeowner's guide for living in bear country and other
facts about human/bear conflicts.
- Black bears are the only type of bear native to Florida and
once roamed throughout the state's entire 34.5 million acres. Human
activities in Florida have eliminated bears from about 83 percent
of their former range.
- Florida bears are black with a brown muzzle and may have a
white chest marking called a blaze. Adult black bears
typically weigh 150 to 400 pounds. The largest male bear on record
in Florida weighed 624 pounds; the largest female weighed 342
- Female bears, called sows, begin breeding at about 3.5 years
old and generally have one to four cubs every other year. In
Florida, the breeding season runs from June to August, and cubs are
born about seven months later in late January to early
- Bears of all ages are excellent climbers and climb trees when
they are frightened. About 80 percent of a black bear's diet is
plant matter (plants, berries, nuts, etc.). The other 20 percent
includes insects and meat.