Florida Black Bears

The following text appeared as a Nocatee blog post earlier today.

Recently, Florida black bears have been spotted in the area.  While they pose no immediate threat we want to take this opportunity to pass on some important information:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be canvassing the area in the coming days.  The purpose will be to walk through selected neighborhoods, talk with residents, and answer questions. FWC will begin in Greenleaf Village.

FWC will also be on site to answer residents questions on Thursday, June 15th, at 6:30pm in the Nocatee Room. FWC will discuss Florida wildlife through a presentation with photos, video, educational materials, and even some swag to take home.

Here is an important letter from the FWC to residents in north Florida about how to coexist safely with Florida’s black bears.  

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds the public to be aware that bears are becoming more active this time of year. There are important things people can do over the next few months to reduce negative interactions with Florida’s largest land mammal.

“Now is the time to expect bears to show up looking for food,” said Dave Telesco, who directs the FWC’s Bear Management Program. “If they can’t find food in your neighborhood, they’ll move on.”

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.  Failure to follow these tips may result in a citation:

  • Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a bear resistant trashcan.
  • Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
  • Remove bird feeders.
  • Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
  • Keep garage doors closed because bears will target refrigerators, freezers, pet food, beverages, and garbage stored in a garage.
  • Use loud noises such as air horns, car horns or alarms, banging pots and pans to scare bears away from your home, but do not approach a bear. 

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.

If you feel threatened by a bear or want to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). During business hours call your FWC regional office to report concerning wildlife behavior: (352) 732-1225.