How to stay safe during bear season

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Depending on where you live, the sight of a bear rummaging around your trash may not be all that unusual. In fact, black bear interactions with humans in Florida are on the rise.

Here’s something you may not know. Black bears can consume up to 20,000 calories a day.

That is especially true now in the fall, as they get ready for winter. The state of Florida now has more black bears living here than in the past 100 years, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Services.

In the Fall, these animals, like many others, are preparing for hibernation. This means they’ll do whatever they can to get food in their bellies. That includes traveling to your house searching for dinner. It’s one of the reasons the FWC urges you to keep your garbage cans tied away or in a garage.

“If they do get into your garbage, they are able to consume more calories in a shorter period of time than they would foraging on their own for food. They will continue to come back. It’s an easy source of food for them,” says Melody Kilborn with the FWC.

Also make sure your outdoor grills are cleaned so the smell of food doesn’t attract them.

Last year, a bear crawled up a tree in a Tampa neighborhood. Thankfully, the homeowners never came face to face with it.

“If you see a bear, you want to make loud noise, let them know you are there. don’t approach. Make as much noise as you can and that will usually scare them away,” says Kilborn.

According to Kilborn, in 2016 the FWC had 11 calls from people in the bay area about bears. Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel are the areas that usually see the most bear activity in neighborhoods.

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