Bear cub rescued in Ave Maria; black bear encounter tips

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo Writer: Nicholas Karsen
Published: Updated:

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reminds Southwest Florida residents of what to do when they spot a black bear in unexpected places.

Around this time of year, young bears begin to emerge in newer habitats after leaving their mothers’ home range.

An example of bears traveling all around Southwest Florida happened on Thursday when a baby black bear was found in an Ave Maria dumpster.

“What happened was the the bigger female, the mom there, she actually pushed in the lid to the dumpster to get into some of the food that was in the dumpster. And the cub was able to get in. But then it wasn’t able to get out. It just wasn’t big enough. And of course, she is big enough, she could jump out of that not a big deal,” said Michael Orlando, a bear program coordinator for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Thankfully, a Collier County deputy came to the rescue.

“They put in basically a ladder-ish type thing of a piece of wood, and a cub climbs way out and was able to go,” said Orlando.

But, if you see a cub, a mom is probably nearby. So where was she?

“They had a number of people who went there. They blew an air horn. She ran off a little bit that quickly stumped the piece of wood in there. And then they left and mom came back, the Cub came out and they were reunited,” said Orlando.

A happy ending is beary appreciated.

“Summertime, we’re going to see a lot more bears dispersing across the landscape, not only looking for mates but also looking for new places to live,” said Orlando.

While intimidating, black bears are generally non-aggressive animals; however, the FWC warns that while that may be the case, they are wild animals and will become defensive when threatened.

According to the FWC, if you encounter a black bear in an unexpected area, give it plenty of space and never approach or feed it. They will typically move along on their own.

It can be tempting to feed black bears from a safe distance; however, doing so will cause them to lose their natural fear of people.

Below are some helpful tips and reminders to deter black bears:

Secure food and garbage

  • Store garbage in a sturdy shed or garage and put it out on the morning of pickup rather than the night before.
  • If not stored in a secured building, modify your garbage can to make it more bear-resistant, or use a bear-resistant container.
  • Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters.
  • Protect gardens, beehives, compost, and livestock with electric fencing.
  • Pick ripe fruit from trees and bushes and remove fallen fruit from the ground.

Remove or secure bird and wildlife feeders

  • Remove wildlife feeders.
  • If wildlife feeders are left up, only put enough food out for wildlife to finish eating before dark and make feeders bear-resistant.

Never leave pet food outdoors

  • Feed pets indoors.
  • If feeding pets outdoors, only put food outside for short periods and bring in leftover food and dishes after each feeding.

Clean and store grills

  • Clean and degrease grills and smokers after each use.
  • If mobile, store them in a secure shed or garage.

Alert neighbors to bear activity

  • If you see a bear, let your neighbors know.
  • Share tips on how to avoid conflicts with bears.
  • Encourage your homeowner’s association or local government to institute bylaws or ordinances to require trash to be kept secure.

For more information regarding and or any potential conflicts with black bears, click here.

If you’re curious about bears, the FWC has a page dedicated to understanding and co-habitation of the Florida black bear.

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