News Releases

Securing trash can reduce bear activity in Lake Wales Ridge

News Release

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-227-3830

This fall, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has been receiving an increased number of calls from the public about black bears in the Lake Wales Ridge area, primarily along an 85-mile stretch between Venus and Poinciana.

Citizens report that bears are foraging in their trash, bird feeders and in areas where pet and livestock foods are left unsecured. Recently, FWC biologists have also received reports of bears taking chickens in the area.

The FWC reminds residents that conflicts with bears can be prevented by securing garbage, birdseed, pet food and livestock. For example, putting out trash cans on the morning of garbage pickup rather than the night before can discourage the curious but still shy bear from accessing the trash. Another option includes using bear-resistant trash containers or dumpsters provided by some local waste service companies.

The most effective way to keep chickens safe from bears and other wildlife is to use electric fencing. FWC has detailed instructions and a how-to video that explain how to set up an electric fence. The video is available at under “Popular Uploads.”

“These situations are preventable,” said FWC biologist Chad Allison, who is responsible for responding to bear complaints in the area. “If bears do not have access to food in neighborhoods, they don’t have a reason to visit.”  

If trash and other food sources are readily available in neighborhoods, bears will return again and again. When this happens, bears can become dependent on these food sources and will begin to lose their natural fear of people. These bears cannot be relocated, because they will continue to seek out and find human-related food sources, which can result in a public safety risk. The FWC will attempt to catch and euthanize any bear that is considered a public safety risk.

Trapping bears in areas that have plentiful food sources, such as unsecured garbage, is difficult. “Bears simply won’t go in a trap after our bait when other food is so readily available,” said Allison.

But Allison has hope. “Working with our partners and the public, Florida has been successful in creating excellent habitat for bears along the Lake Wales Ridge. If we take a few precautions to prevent bears from getting into mischief, we can live with bears without conflicts.”

For more information on how to help conserve black bears and reduce conflicts with them, visit and select “Living with Bears.”

If you are experiencing bear problems, please contact the FWC’s Southwest Regional Office at 863-648-3200.

FWC Facts:
The FWC has teamed with other conservation organizations to offer youth hunts that are safe, educational and very affordable.

Learn More at AskFWC