MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Be aware of the bears. That’s the message from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as bear season gets underway.
In order to help get their message across, the FWC held a demonstration Thursday at Zoo Miami.
They used two black bears and a bear resistant garbage can and CBS4 Photojournalist Rafael Murciano was there to capture the bears as they looked for a meal inside that almost impossible to open garbage can.
With bears out of their winter dens, they’re moving around in search of food. June also marks the beginning of black bear mating season in Florida. This means the Florida black bears are looking for lunch and love!
Female bears that gave birth to cubs that were only 12 ounces at the end of January are moving around more with their young, which may now be 5 to 10 pounds. As the cubs continue to grow, the family unit will roam and can be more visible to people.
While black bears generally are not aggressive, they have injured people in Florida.
- Never intentionally approach any bear.
- When walking dogs in bear country, keep them close to you, preferably on a non-retractable leash, and be aware of your surroundings. Dogs can trigger defensive behaviors from bears especially females with cubs.
- To keep bears away from your home and neighborhood, follow these simple tips:
- Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
- Put household garbage out on morning of pickup rather than the night before.
- Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
- Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
- Encourage your homeowners’ association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash be kept secure from bears.
- Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
- Clean grills and store them in a secure place.
- Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
- Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
It is illegal in Florida to intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that will attract bears and cause human-bear conflicts.
As bears increase their movements this time of year, they also increase the number of roads they cross. For the safety of yourself and bears, remember to slow down when driving, particularly on rural highways at dawn or dusk. Watch for road signs identifying bear crossing areas. Each year in Florida, an average of 240 Florida bears are killed after being hit by vehicles.