SARASOTA COUNTY – June is the height of breeding season for black bears which means they will be more present this time of year.

Black bears are active more than ever, searching for food and mates.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they will travel miles on end, spending more time in open spaces during daylight hours.

Black Bear Research Biologist Walter McCown says it’s not unlikely for you to run into a furry friend. “There are about 4,000 bears in Florida, and it’s quite an increase in number from our last population estimate, in 2002 we estimated about 2800,” said McCown.

With this rise of bears, McCown states their range has increased into human communities so the regions of South Sarasota and Charlotte County should be prepared.

Fear not, because they typically keep to themselves, not acting aggressively towards us. But that doesn’t mean they’re not aggressive towards your property!

“They’re very powerful and can be destructive to property, if humans are not careful and leave things like bird feeders out, bears will go for the birdseed and tear it down. A grill on a back porch, a bear will go right through the screen,” said McCown.

If you do come too close to a bear, make yourself as large as possible and speak loudly while slowly backing away. If you don’t know if you’re too close, McCown says the bears will tell you.

“They’ll communicate to you, if you’re too close, they’ll gro through a number of behaviors to tell you that. They’ll pop their jaws, ‘clack clack clack’, uhm or they’ll snort, ‘sch sch’, which is bear speak for, you’re too close, please get away. Uhm, or they will bluff charge, where they’ll run at you as fast as they can and just stop,” said McCown.

McCown recommends taking down bird feeders, securing garbage cans, keeping pet food inside and most of all staying alert.

For more wildlife safety tips on enjoying the outdoors this summer visit Fish and Wildlife’s website.