The Apopka Police Department, the Central Florida Zoo and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will present a special black bear awareness program at 1:00 PM TODAY, Saturday, Jan. 16, at the Apopka Amphitheater, 3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway.
Stephanie Williams, the zoo’s director of education, will present information about black bears and their behavior. Learn what to do in case of a bear encounter and – more importantly – how to avoid feeding them and attracting them into neighborhoods. The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will answer questions and have a display with lots of educational materials.
Florida’s Black bears are becoming more common in local neighborhoods as the growing animal population seeks easy opportunities for food. Recently Fish and Wildlife reported a bear in the Apopka area weighing more than 600 pounds. Last year, another bear in Seminole County topped a hefty 760 pounds – the biggest ever recorded in Florida and roughly twice the size of a typical male bear.
Sightings also continue around area homes – even during winter, when bears typically become less active. The most effective method for residents to safely live around black bears is to manage garbage and other food sources.
Bears are adaptable and learn very quickly to associate people with food. Even though black bears are normally too shy to risk contact with humans, their powerful need to find food can overwhelm this fear. Bears can smell food from over a mile away.
Here are some easy tips:
· Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container.
· Put household garbage out on morning of pickup rather than the night before.
· Protect gardens, apiaries, compost and livestock with electric fencing.
· Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding.
· Clean grills and store them in a locked, secure place.
· Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant.
· Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
· Screened enclosures will not keep bears out.