News Releases

‘Bear’ with us, store your garbage

News Release

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-227-3830

Florida black bears are being seen with more frequency throughout the southwest part of our state due to the influx of more people and a growing bear population.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions residents to store their garbage in a manner that denies bears access to it, or bears repeatedly will visit that neighborhood to obtain food.

“When bears easily obtain food from human sources, they begin to associate communities with a feeding opportunity. In turn, bears develop habits around people that are difficult to change – and  easily obtained food makes it far less likely that a bear will move on to more suitable habitat,” said Chad Allison, FWC regional wildlife biologist.

Some bears are moving northward to Lehigh Acres and other areas because they were forced out by their bear relatives to the south – where there is good habitat – and are looking for a new home elsewhere. These displaced bears often travel through an undeveloped corridor by Lake Trafford to Lehigh Acres. If not given a human-caused feeding opportunity, these bears will continue moving through Lehigh Acres to more suitable undeveloped bear habitat.

The FWC recommends the following steps to prevent human-bear conflicts:

  • Feed your pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
  • Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
  • Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup, not the night before.
  • Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters consisting of metal lids or metal-reinforced plastic lids and lock bars.
  • Clean grills and store them in a locked, secure place.
  • Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
  • Protect gardens, apiaries, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
  • Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
  • Encourage your homeowners association or local government to institute ordinances on keeping foods secure that would attract wildlife.
  • Ignoring these recommendations greatly increases the chances that a bear will become a nuisance - conditioned to visiting neighborhoods, and have to be euthanized. Help conserve wildlife by remembering a fed bear may become a dead bear.

If you would like more information on avoiding conflicts with bears, visit and click on the video titled “Living with Florida Black Bears.”

FWC Facts:
It is illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal, including manatees.

Learn More at AskFWC