Florida Communities Band Together to Reduce Human-Bear Interactions

black bear
Posted at 5:05 PM, Oct 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 18:15:08-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - 13-counties, three cities and a trio of neighborhood associations in Florida said that they are seeking state money to help reduce human-bear interactions.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said this week it's reviewing $1.9-million in proposals, while only $850,000 is available this year for bear-proofing measures.

"Florida is fortunate enough to have 4000 bears, and we have 20 million people. The important thing is to coexist together. How we do that is to not reward bears with garbage, bird seed and pet food. But garbage is the number one thing," said David Telesco, Bear Management Program Coordinator for the FWC.

They said that its during the fall months that most human and bear interactions occur. Bears are preparing for hibernation and scouring for food leading them into places they shouldn't be and in many cases it's around humans.

The average black bear requires 20-thousand calories a day to prepare for the winter. Garbage and pet food outside people's homes are two of the leading lures for bears.

The commission voted against holding a bear hunt this year, instead focusing on non-lethal steps to manage the state's growing bear population.

So far the legislature has allocated $500,000 to the state agency for bear-proofing measures.

The money raised is from fees paid by hunters for the 2015 bear hunt. The other $325,000 was raised through sales of "conserve wildlife" license plates.

Most of the money requires local governments to match the state funds.

Officials said that to prevent unwanted interaction, they have asked residents to bring pet food inside and make sure that their trash is also secure.