FWC Homepage Division of Wildlife



Bear Home

The "Bear" Facts

Distribution Map

Bears & Roads

Educator's Corner


Bearish Links

Black Bear Festival


Human/Bear Conflicts

Seeing a wild bear is a rare sight that eludes most Floridians. When bears are seen in the wild, it's usually the back end as they run away. If you do see a bear, leave it alone, watch it from a safe distance, and let it pass. Most of the time, bears sense you and sneak away before you even know they are there. While there are no documented bear attacks in Florida, black bears are large, powerful creatures, and they have attacked people in other states.  Problems arise when bears are fed by or find food near human habitation.


Sometimes they appear gentle but, like alligators, once bears lose their natural fear of people and become habituated, they may become dangerous. It is illegal to intentionally feed bears in Florida.

Learn how to Be Bear Aware and do your part to avoid attracting bears to your neighborhood. View our short video "Understanding Human/Bear Conflicts in Florida" for more information. Advertise your support!  Get your bear-shaped Be Bear Aware magnet. Order the magnet and video here. Leaving pet food on a porch or in the yard or purposely feeding bears will eventually cause problems for you, your neighbors, and the bears. 

The most common attractant is leaving garbage where bears can get it.  Store your garbage in a shed, garage, or other reinforced container, and wait until the morning of pickup to put it out for collection. You can purchase or build your own bear-proof garbage containers.  

Once bears find food, they will continue to return for the easy foraging, potentially causing damage to property in their search. For more suggestions on how to reduce bear problems, read our online fliers and pamphlets: Bears and Human Food Attractants, If You See a Bear in your Community, Living in Bear Country, A Homeowner's Guide and Living with the Florida Black Bear.  Remember, bears will investigate items that you may not think are bear food, such as: motor oil, barbeque grills, and livestock feed. In extreme cases, FWC may have to euthanize nuisance bears to ensure human safety when they threatened people or cause severe property damage. If you continue to have bear problems, contact the nearest regional office. Also, follow these links for information on preventing bear damage to deer feeders, and to learn how to set up electric fences around bee yards or other structures.

Humans and bears come into conflict many different ways. FWC has tracked and categorized the calls we have received since 1978. As of 2001, 4,389 complaints have been reported. The following pie chart shows the different types of complaints:

These problems have increased in recent years, especially during the recent drought. Other causes for the increase in complaints may be increases in development, fewer people familiar with bears, and increased reporting.

Of the total complaints taken by the FWC since 1978, most (49%) come from the Ocala bear population. This large bear population borders on several heavily developed neighborhoods; the combination of high bear and people numbers causes more conflicts.