Stay calm! What to do if you come face to face with a bear

Julian Glover

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Stay calm! What to do if you come face to face with a bear

CREATED Oct. 4, 2013

NAPLES, Fla. - Do you know what to do if you come face to face with a bear? Here’s what you need to know.

"If you see a bear in your neighborhood stay calm,” said Jorge Pino, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Call 911 or call the FWC.”

Those are the key tips to remember if you see a bear in your neighborhood.

Experts say your chances of seeing one of the furry fellas is increasing with the change in season.

"This is the time where bears are very active,” said Dan Mitchell, staff biologist with FWC.

“They're trying to pack on as many calories as possible for the winter months when food is a little more scarce.”

To pack on the extra pounds, bears are looking to eat just about anything in sight.

Your trashcans are the ideal targets – a bear’s personal food pantry if you will. 

"They would much rather go there and pick up that food than go into their natural habitat where they have to pick for berries,” said Pino.

“So this is like fast food for the bears when they can just run up to the trash can,” asked Four in Your Corner’s Julian Glover.

“That’s right,” said Pino.

That's why experts from the Florida Fish and Wildlife are telling you to put a lid on it and lock it.

The commission says people who use a locking trashcan are up to 90% less likely to have a run in with a bear.

"Use these little clamps like this right there. One on each side. And when you're ready you can just clamp them down, and there's now way there bear can get in there,” said Pino.

Fox 4 got a first hand demonstration of one of these locking trashcans in action, and even when the bears tipped it over they still couldn't get in. 

If you have a run in with a ‘Yoggie’ or a Boo-Boo’ the FWC is asking for your help!

They've launched a new website ( where the info you submit will give the experts the advantage in tracking the bears.

And remember, if you do see a bear it's not necessarily a bad thing.

"It could be a once in a lifetime for a lot of individuals,” said Pino.

Officials also say if a bear charges at you, make loud noises and wave your arms to scare it off.

The FWC says there are about 3,000 bears in Florida and about a third of those bears are right here in Southwest Florida, so keep your eyes peeled.