Evidence of the presence of a bear was found at a residence on the east end of the Island on Sheffield Drive. This is the first time in recent memory that the Marco Island Police Department has been advised of such an occurrence.
While some people believe that seeing a black bear is a very exciting experience, many others view the experience as a danger or threat to their personal or pet’s safety. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) have indicated that “the presence of bears is not necessarily a problem or a threat to your safety. But it is important to remember that bears are wild animals and deserve respect.”
The presence of a bear in Collier County or Marco Island is not necessarily unusual given the Island’s proximity to the bear’s primary and secondary ranges.
The following tips are provided by the FWCC’s “Be Bear Aware” program:
• Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife resistant container
• Put household garbage out on morning of pick-up rather than the night before
• Secure commercial garbage in bear resistant dumpsters
• 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 – bears love fruit!
Making these changes around your home and encouraging your neighbors to do the same will discourage bears from associating your community with an easy food source.
What do I do if I see a bear?
If you encounter a bear at close range, remain standing upright, back up slowly and speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice. NEVER approach or surprise a bear. If you see a bear from a distance, enjoy the experience, but do not move toward the bear. If you are close, do not make any sudden or abrupt movements. Back away slowly and be sure the bear has an obvious escape route. DO NOT turn your back, play dead, climb a tree or run. Back away slowly into the house or a secure area. Make sure you are in a safe area and that the bear has a clear escape route. Make noise or bang pots and pans to scare bears away. AVOID DIRECT EYE CONTACT. Bears and many other animals may view this as aggressive behavior.
Report any bear that is threatening the safety of humans and pets to the MIPD at 911 or 389-5050 and FWCC’s Wildlife Alert hotline, 888-404-FWCC (3922).
For more information, please go to FWCC’s “Living with Florida Black Bears” website: myfwc.com/conservation/ you-conserve/wildlife/black-bears/