Bear sightings concern Naples neighborhood
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
NAPLES, Fla. - One Naples neighborhood is concerned about safety after seeing a family of bears frequently roaming the neighborhood, even during the day. Jason Gabauer lives in the Amberton community, just north of Immokolee Road near I-75. He said he's spotted a family of bears dozens of times in the last month and a half, which concerns the father of two.
He has pictures of the bears in his yard, in trees, and within feet of his porch. On Friday, he said he came face to face with the bear he believes to be "papa bear," weighing around 600 pounds. He nearly ran into the bear in his side yard while playing outside with his six-year-old son.
"We literally have to look before we go outside, to the car, even letting the dog out now," he said.
He used to only see the bears at night, when it was dark. But now, he said with the bears coming out during the day, he's worried about his kids' safety.
"I'm most concerned about the little ones and not being able to let them go outside without checking first, or even run around the corner when you're right there in the front because you don't know what's on the other side of that corner," Gabauer said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Carli Segelson said FWC put a trap in the Amberton neighborhood a few weeks ago, but didn't catch anything. She confirmed officers are putting another trap out today, which will be out for up to four days.
Segelson said the bears are particularly active right now because they're looking to put on more weight before winter months. She also said the rainy weather brings the bears into drier, higher ground which often ends up being neighborhoods.
Since January 2013, FWC reports 375 sightings in Collier County. The key to keeping bears out of neighborhoods is removing food, including bird feed and pet food bowls, and trash from outside. Even if FWC traps a bear but those items remain in the neighborhood, Segelson said it's likely that another bear will show up.
"Bears, by nature, are afraid of humans but when they start entering neighborhoods, they're getting easy food sources and nobody is messing with them, so they start to lose that natural fear and that's what we want to prevent," Segelson said.
According to the FWC, here are some other suggestions to keep bears away:
- Use electric fencing to protect gardens, compost piles, apiaries, fruit trees and livestock.
- Store garbage and recyclables in bear-resistant containers or in a secure area until the morning of pick up.
- Feed pets indoors or bring food dishes (even if empty) inside before dark.
- Store pet and livestock feed in bear-resistant containers or inside a secure area.
- Remove bird and wildlife feeders. Ensure the area is free of all seed, corn, or other wild animal feed.
- Keep gardens and fruiting trees and shrubs tidy. Remove rotten fruit and harvest ripe nuts, fruits and vegetables.
- Clean meat smokers and barbeque grills with a degreasing detergent. Properly dispose of food remnants after each use.
Here's a link to the "Living in Bear Country Brochure" the FWC issues to residents. http://myfwc.com/media/1333887/LivinginBearCountryBrochure.pdf