State wildlife officials say human-bear interactions are on the rise, and they’re trying to educate Floridians on ways to defuse those situations.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife commission is turning to the online video platform Vimeo to teach people how to stay safe when they cross paths with a Florida Black Bear. One key is standing your ground.
“Avoid eye contact and make your movements obvious and direct,” the video’s narrator says. “Don’t play dead, run or turn your back on the bear. Similar to a dog, running from a bear can trigger its instinct to chase.”
If possible, the video suggests getting to a safe place, and making sure the bear has an escape route.
“Now, scare that bear,” the narrator says. “Let it know you’re there, and that it’s not welcome. Clap your hands, use an airhorn, or blow a whistle or your car horn. Wild black bears are usually easy to scare away with noise.”
The commission says most interactions happen when bears are searching for food, so it’s important to secure attractants like garbage, pet food, or grills.
Officials warn the animals have a wide ranging habitat—most of the state is bear country.