Walton County Sheriff's Office Reports Bear Sightings - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Walton County Sheriff's Office Reports Bear Sightings

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The Walton County Sheriff's Office has received numerous calls about bears all over Walton County. In the late summer and early fall, bears are driven to consume as many calories as possible in preparation for denning through the hungry winter months.

Bears that eat 5,000 calories a day may increase to 20,000 calories a day during this period. The diet of the average black bear is normally 80 percent vegetable, 15 percent insect, and 5 percent small animals, reptiles and eggs. However, living around humans, bears have developed a taste for people's garbage because it is often higher in calories than their natural food sources. The best way to avoid conflicts with bears is to secure anything that might attract a curious bear. The following suggestions may prevent bears from being attracted to and lingering in your neighborhood.

  • Store your trash can in a secure area, such as a sturdy shed or garage, and put it out on the MORNING of garbage pickup, NOT the night before.
  • Get a commercially-manufactured bear-resistant trash can that has been reinforced with metal and a push-to-open latching system.
  • If you do not have trash service, you can buy bear-resistant trash cans from several online retailers, including Ace Hardware, Lowe's, and Home Depot.
  • If you have trash service, ask for a bear-resistant trash can. If they will not provide them, call your local government official. Enough citizens have taken action in some counties that they now have bear-resistant trash cans.
  • Build a small shed to store your trash cans. Important elements are to leave no gaps along edges and use screws instead of nails.* Call your waste service provider to ensure they will service trash cans from a shed.
  • Attach hardware to your regular trash can to make it more bear-resistant.*
  • For a 'retrofit' to be successful, the lid must not be flexible, and the can should not collapse when you stand on its side. Call your waste service provider for permission to 'retrofit' your trash can.
  • Clean grills and store them in a secure location, such as a sturdy shed or garage.
  • Feed pets indoors or promptly remove leftover pet food and bowls for pets fed outside.
  • Store animal food in a secure area; remove or modify* wildlife feeders when bears are in the area.
  • Protect gardens, compost piles, and livestock with electric fencing.
  • Secure outdoor refrigerators and freezers with marine locks.

For more information please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website at http://www.myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/bear/brochures/

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Information provided by the Walton County Sheriff's Office

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