Hernando bear sighting prompts safety reminder - WNCT

Hernando bear sighting prompts safety reminder

Posted: Updated:
The Sheriff's Office wants you to avoid run-ins with bears The Sheriff's Office wants you to avoid run-ins with bears
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A recent bear sighting in Spring Hill has prompted the Hernando Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish and WIldlife Conservation Commission to release a list of bear safety tips.

A bear was sighted near Alderwood Street in the Spring Hill area of Hernando County, where a known bear population exists along the coast.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office want residents to know what to do if they see a bear and how to avoid creating problems with one.

"Florida black bears are normally shy creatures that avoid people.  Fortunately, the avoidance behavior that bears typically exhibit helps both bears and people coexist without much fanfare," said Chad Allison, district biologist and bear specialist with the FWC.

Black bears are protected by law in Florida. According to the FWC, the bear population along the west coast, from Hernando County north, is the smallest subpopulation area in the state and most vulnerable to habitat loss - less space in which to forage and roam.

"If you come face-to-face with a bear, don't panic, don't look it in the eye, don't turn your back and run. Just move away slowly on an angle, making sure that the animal has an escape route. Bears are pretty calm animals and not looking to cause trouble," Allison added.

Florida black bears are active year-round, foraging wherever they can find food.

"However," Allison warned, "the normal behavior of bears can be short-circuited if people provide these animals with the opportunity to forage in and around their neighborhood."

When a bear learns there is easy access to food in a human neighborhood, often in unsecured trash, bird feeders or pet food left outside, it is apt to return repeatedly. In fact, once a successful pattern of securing regular meals in a human neighborhood has been established, the bear may learn that humans are not to be feared and that being near them has its rewards.

A bear that chronically returns to homes is not typically relocated because chances are high that the animal will continue to repeat the behavior no matter where it is. Worse, when cubs learn these feeding habits from their mother, they too, sadly, become victims of feeding opportunities they should not have - opportunities that put their lives in danger when human-bear conflicts arise.

The FWC cautions residents to eliminate feeding opportunities by storing garbage in a manner that denies bears access to it, or bears will repeatedly visit that neighborhood to obtain food.

The FWC recommends the following steps to prevent human-bear conflicts:

*Feed your pets indoors, or bring in dishes after feeding.

*Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.

*Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup, not the night before.

*Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters consisting of metal lids or metal-reinforced plastic lids and lock bars.

*Clean barbecue grills and store them in a locked, secure place.

*Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.

*Protect gardens, apiaries, compost and livestock with electric fencing.

*Pick ripe fruit from trees, and remove fallen fruit from the ground.

*Encourage your homeowners association or local government to institute ordinances on keeping foods secure that would attract wildlife.

Ignoring these recommendations also greatly increases the chances that a bear and/or a motorist will be injured as the animal crosses neighborhood streets, looking for food.

Bears seen foraging in trash, pet food or other attractants, or bears that exhibit other destructive behavior, should be reported immediately to the FWC by calling the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or, during regular working hours, the FWC's Lakeland Regional office at 863-648-3200.

If you would like more information on avoiding conflicts with bears, visit the FWC website, and click on the video titled "Living with Florida Black Bears."

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @WFLATAMPA

  • 8 On Your SideMore>>

  • Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Are background checks enough for Florida teachers?

    Friday, April 18 2014 7:41 PM EDT2014-04-18 23:41:35 GMT

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.

    In an effort to weed out potential perverts, Florida law requires fingerprinting and criminal background checks before school districts hire employees that will have any contact with children.


  • Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Pasco mix-up sends registration notices to wrong drivers

    Friday, April 18 2014 6:02 PM EDT2014-04-18 22:02:51 GMT
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
    The vehicle registration information of hundreds of drivers in Pasco County were sent to the wrong person in a mix-up that led to the firing of a contractor.
  • Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Flushable wipes, not so flushable says Tampa's wastewater officials

    Friday, April 18 2014 3:52 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:52:20 GMT
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
    Personal wipes, baby wipes, face wipes, flushable wipes. They are all designed to help us deal with delicate issues. But the wipes themselves are actually pretty sturdy and increasingly local water systems are finding they are creating costly problems.
  • NewsMore>>

  • Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation

    Transcript reveals confusion over ferry evacuation

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:52 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:52:42 GMT
    The confirmed death toll from South Korea's ferry disaster rose past 50 on Sunday as divers finally found a way inside the sunken vessel, quickly discovering more than a dozen bodies in what almost certainly is...
    A transcript released Sunday shows the South Korean ferry that sank was crippled with confusion and indecision well after it began listing dangerously, possibly adding to a death toll that is officially at 58 but could...
  • Delay in ferry evacuation puzzles maritime experts

    Delay in ferry evacuation puzzles maritime experts

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:32 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:32:38 GMT
    It is a decision that has maritime experts stumped and is at odds with standard procedure: Why were the passengers of the doomed South Korean ferry told to stay in their rooms rather than climb on deck?
    It is a decision that has maritime experts stumped and is at odds with standard procedure: Why were the passengers of the doomed South Korean ferry told to stay in their rooms rather than climb on deck?
  • St. Pete man struck, killed on I-75 in Sarasota County

    St. Pete man struck, killed on I-75 in Sarasota County

    Sunday, April 20 2014 8:31 AM EDT2014-04-20 12:31:53 GMT
    The incident was investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol.The incident was investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol.
    A 33-year-old St. Petersburg man was struck and killed while walking along Interstate 75 near North Port Saturday night.Tyron Anthony Rubino was pronounced dead at the scene just before 11 p.m.
    A 33-year-old St. Petersburg man was struck and killed while walking along Interstate 75 near North Port Saturday night.Tyron Anthony Rubino was pronounced dead at the scene just before 11 p.m.
Powered by WorldNow

3221 South Evans Street
Greenville N.C. 27834

Telephone: 252.355.8500
Fax: 252.355.8568
Email: newsdesk@wnct.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.