Florida Fish and Wildlife Seeking to Partner with Public, Local Governments to Tackle Growing Black Bear Problems
March 5, 2014 | WMFE, Orlando - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission held a public meeting in Longwood on Tuesday to tackle the issue of bear management in the state.
A bear skin, used for educational purposes, sits atop a table at the first community meeting sponsored by The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Longwood on Tuesday. Photo: Carmel Delshad | WMFE
Bears are no strangers to Central Florida, but the commission wants to partner with the public, local governments and NGOs to talk about the conservation and management of the black bear population. One way the commission wants to do it is by holding public meetings like this one.
"We’re going to meet with them multiple times a year, and get a feel for, ok, what’s your part? How do you feel you can play a role? How can we all put our pieces together in this puzzle and make a difference?" says David Telesco, FWC Bear Management Coordinator.
That’s welcome news for Kolby and Lindsey Norris, who live in Heathrow. They’ve seen a lot of bears in their backyard.
"We were there for quite some time, there were up to six different bears in our backyard. It just became almost obnoxious just with how many there were," Kolby Norris says.
The Norrises say they even had to carefully time when to let their dogs out because of their bear problem.
On the flip side, Longwood resident D.J. Johnson says that bears have been vilified for doing nothing more than protecting their turf and offspring.
"Why don’t humans admit what the real problem is, it’s them and their domestic animals, and quit blaming wild animals just for acting like wild animals?" says Johnson.
The commission is holding six more of these meetings statewide, and dividing the state into different parts to tailor their approach to bear management to each area. The mauling of a Longwood woman by a black bear last December was also discussed.
FWC officials also reported a record high numbers of calls to report bear encounters, though most calls reported bears rummaging through trash.