FWC says fire can cause bears to move into neighborhoods

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the fires could also bring another danger — bears into your backyard.

We spoke to a family in Golden Gate Estates Monday, who recorded bears playing feet away from their home recently. They worry about their dogs and children in their neighborhood.

“My husband woke up and calmly said to me, “The bears are in the back yard again,’” Emily Monty said. “So I got up, looked out, and, sure enough, they were out there.”

Bears near Monty’s home seemed to have found a better place to play and hangout than what might be their normal spot.

“Then, I noticed the trees were all leveled to the ground, and the whole back patio was covered in mud,” Monty said.

Monty was not so thrilled, since the bears made themselves a little too comfortable at her home.

“They had walked across the hot tub, jumped in the outdoor sofa and licked our patio windows,” Monty said.

Monty’s neighbor who has two little kids was not thrilled to hear about the bears nearby either.

“My neighbor across the street has two kids and has seen a family of five, probably the same bears, and she doesn’t want to let her kids out,” Monty said. “He just hasn’t been outside the house today at all. She’s just too afraid.”

Monty says they should not have to worry every time they need to let their dogs outside.

“Our bulldogs are our children,” Monty said. “We just do everything we can to keep them safe. Usually, we never think of the safety of letting them out.”

FWC says it’s important to take precautions to avoid negative encounters with bears. They advise neighbors to put trashcans out the morning of pickup, not the night before. Protect gardens with electric fencing, and feed pets indoors, or bring dishes in after feeding.

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