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Black bear raids trash in Quincy neighborhood, FWC gives advice to avoid conflicts

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 12:54 PM EDT
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QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) - A black bear dug through a trash can and scattered litter in a Quincy neighborhood Monday night, according to a homeowner on Hopkins Landing Road.

The homeowner told WCTV’s Sophia Hernandez that when she first heard the rummaging outside, she thought it was her husband taking out the trash. Once she realized her husband was in the kitchen, she looked out the window and saw a bear digging through the trash.

Tuesday morning, debris was tossed all across the street and into the forest that surrounds the neighborhood, the homeowner said.

Two people Hernandez spoke with said in more than 20 years living there, they’ve never seen a black bear in their neighborhood.

Recently, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission put out guidance on how to keep bears away from your trash.

“Bears are coming out of their winter dens and they’re searching for food,” said Dave Telesco, who directs the FWC’s Bear Management Program. “Secure trash, pet food, bird feeders and other food items that could attract a bear to your yard or neighborhood. If you don’t give them a reason to stay, they’ll move on.”

FWC says female bears give birth to cubs near the end of January and are beginning to travel with their young.

“As the cubs continue to grow, the family unit will roam farther and likely be observed by people more often,” the press release says.

Although black bears, in general, are not aggressive, they have hurt people in Florida before, FWC says. FWC also says to never intentionally approach any bear, and while walking dogs, keep them close to you.

“Dogs can trigger defensive behaviors from bears, especially females with cubs,” the release says.

FWC says to follow these tips to keep your home and neighborhood bear free:

  • Secure household garbage in a sturdy shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
  • Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
  • Modify your existing garbage can to make it more bear-resistant.
  • Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
  • Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
  • Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash be kept secure from bears.
  • Feed pets indoors or bring in leftover food and dishes after feeding outdoors.
  • Clean grills and store them in a secure place.
  • Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
  • Pick ripe fruit from trees and bushes and remove fallen fruit from the ground.

The guidance from FWC says it is illegal in Florida to harm, intentionally feed bears or leave out food or garbage that would cause human-bear conflicts.

FWC also recommends slowing down while driving in areas with more bears, especially on rural highways at dawn or dusk. “Each year in Florida, an average of 240 bears are killed after being hit by vehicles.”

If you’re having trouble with bears, reach out to FWC’s regional office at 850-265-3676 or 386-758-0525.

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