PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL -- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers are used to dealing with a runaway gator, raccoons, or snakes. They are trained to deal with these common, potentially dangerous animals. Bears however, are much less common.
Now, wildlife officials are training to keep bears away from where they don't belong.
Mike Orlando, the Assistant Bear Program Coordinator says, "When it comes to bears, not everybody is sort-of trained specifically for bear stuff. So that's what were doing. Were going around the state were trying to train everybody to be on the same page. And now gives them the knowledge and tools to deal with the situation when a bear shows up."
Like the one that showed up near Wellington this past June.
Orlando says, "One of the things that we do in particular is try to associate the human voice with any of the deterrent rounds or scare tactics that were using to chase the bears away."
Paintballs and beanbags are available, not to harm the bears, but scare them away.
Wildlife officers stress people are often the problem. Food and trash that attract bears should be kept out of your yard.
Rob Laubenberger, a FWC Law Enforcement Officer says, "This training puts into our minds what we need to do. And it gives us scenarios where we can put forth our training now and actually use it in the field, it's not going to happen much down here in this area but when it does, were going to be better trained and better equipped for it."
If you do encounter a bear, don't try feeding it. In fact feeding bears in the state of Florida is against the law. Plus it conditions the bear to keep coming back for more.
Call FWC officials at theWildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC, or dail 911 if it's an emergency.
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