What you need to do if you spot bears in unexpected areas

File image of a black bear (Pixabay)

Jacksonville, Fla. – In the past few weeks, there have been multiple black bear sightings in places like Tampa, Orlando and here in Jacksonville.

During the spring and summer seasons, young black bears will start to search for a new home as they leave their mothers’ home ranges. Because of this, people may spot bears in unexpected areas as they look around for a new location to settle down.

Unless threatened, black bears are not aggressive creatures and tend to steer clear of humans. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) listed a few pointers on bear safety if you encounter one:

1. Do NOT feed or approach bears: Feeding bears can make them lose their natural fear of people. It’s also illegal in Florida to feed bears or leave out food that will attract them.

2. Secure food and garbage: Place your garbage in a shed or garage, and then put it out on the morning of pickup. If not stored in a secure building, modify your trash can to make it more bear-resistant or use a bear-resistant container.

3. Alert others of bear activity: If you see a bear, let your neighbors know. Share tips with them on how to avoid any conflict. Also, encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute ordinances/reminders to secure trash in the area.

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