Florida Black Bears
Bears In Southwest Florida
The term "Florida black bear" refers to a subspecies of the American black bear, as seen below, found throughout Florida, southern Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.
In Southwest Florida, black bears are common in Lee County, particularly in the lower 2/3 of the county. They are occasionally spotted in Cape Coral residential areas, and one was spotted a few years ago hanging out on a dock and taking a swim. Last summer, a young black bear was seen taking a leisurely stroll through downtown Fort Myers. And a few months before that, a bear was spotted and captured on the Three Oaks Elementary School campus, also in Fort Myers.
Florida bears are even more abundant in Collier county, not only in the state and national preserve areas, but in the northwestern half of the county as well. Bears in Naples seem to make the news in very interesting ways - they have been spotted in swimming pools, hanging out on trampolines, and relaxing on lanais.
Bears are also sighted occasionally in Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee and De Soto counties.
Certain areas have more bear incidents than others. It is important to remember that bears usually become a problem when they are out in search of food. Knowing what bears consider to be "food" and taking the proper precautions as such can go a long way toward preventing unwanted nuisance bear encounters.
One of the first things you can do to cut back on bear encounters is to take away the thing they want most - food. To do this successfully you have to be able to identify potential food sources.
Bears enjoy more than just garbage, they also love nuts, berries, seeds and vegetables. They are also attracted to composts too. The FWC has put together a helpful list of foods that bears like to eat.
Bears are also attracted to pets, livestock and farm animals, installing electric fencing around these enclosures can often be helpful in keeping bears away.
Be careful not to leave less obvious temptations around for bears, things like bird feeders that drop seed on the ground, outdoor grills, used plates and glassware, and of course unsecured trash can all bring bears in.
Specialized garbage containers, like the one seen above found in Grand Teton National Park, can be helpful at making trash less of a temptation to bears or other wildlife. Bears often break into vehicles too, they are attracted by more than just food, they can also be tempted by medicine, air fresheners, ointments, even lip balm.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates a Bear Management program that includes allocation of bear resistant containers for residents who live in areas with high bear populations.
Florida encourages residents to be BearWise, and follow community guidelines for safer co-existence between people and bears. Being a BearWise community means reducing conflict by identifying and securing all potential bear food sources, educating your neighborhood, and knowing when and how to report bear activity.
1242 SW Pine Island Rd., Suite 310
Cape Coral, Florida 33991-2126