FWC aims to reduce SWFL man and bear interactions

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Seeing a bear in Southwest Florida is likely not a strange sight for most people. State wildlife officials said we have an “abundant population” here that is difficult to control. Now, they are asking you to weigh in on a solution.

Woods and wildlife go hand-in-hand in Collier County, especially when it comes to bears in Golden Gate Estates. A WINK News viewer, Marcus Samadh, sent a video of a mother black bear and her cubs, just feet away from his home. “To see a bear run across my yard,” Samadh said, “is kind of pretty normal.”

But not everyone enjoys the bears roaming through their yards.

“I moved here last year,” James Bostic said. “The bears are always down here; knock down trash cans.”

Bostic expects that to happen each week on garbage day.

Most people in the neighborhood would like to see Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission do something about it. They fear things could get worse as the bear population grows.

“Now,” Bostic said, “I hear they’re cutting the trees over here to build more houses.”

That means wildlife needs to find another home. The FWC wants your feedback, with suggestions to reduce interactions. One of the most prevalent issues is bear garbage scrounging, which accounts for 31 percent of the calls in Southwest Florida made to the government agency.

Samadh hopes any alternative the county may choose does not lead to harming animals. But he admits, if the males are contributing to the overpopulation of bears, something needs to be done. The state has approved hunts in the past, which sparked much controversy.

Samadh hopes man and bear can coexist. “They are definitely known,” he said. “You see them a lot.”

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