A 3-legged bear is loose in a Florida neighborhood. Here’s how to protect your trash

How to keep bears away from your home

Your chances of encountering a Florida black bear are greater today than 100 years ago. Learn the simple steps for bear-proofing your trash and other strategies to keep bears away from your home and neighborhood.
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Your chances of encountering a Florida black bear are greater today than 100 years ago. Learn the simple steps for bear-proofing your trash and other strategies to keep bears away from your home and neighborhood.

There’s an injured bear on the loose in Naples, but wildlife officials aren’t planning on relocating it.

The bear, nicknamed “8 Ball” by residents, is rummaging through garbage and walking on three legs. But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission doesn’t plan on getting involved, the News-Press in Fort Myers reports.

“If it’s healthy and moving, we want it to be in the wild ... but from the photos we’ve been getting, he seems like a nice big healthy bear who’s just walking with a limp,” bear biologist Mike Orlando told the news site.

The recent bear sightings could be because it’s mating season, which the FWC website states is when the animal typically becomes more active and starts to wander outside of its usual territory. This increases the risk of conflict with humans.

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The Flagler Humane Society is also begging residents to stop reporting the injured bear to authorities.

“Due to the calls of people saying they are in fear, it will put the bear’s life at risk for euthanasia if FWC and the sheriff’s department continue to receive so many calls of fears for citizens safety,” the Flagler Humane Society wrote on Facebook.

The bear also isn’t “being a nuisance,” according to the humane society, which is why officials are letting it travel and heal its leg injury. They’re asking residents to give it space.

“Use safety precautions as with all wildlife and as the bear heals he will move out of the area!” the humane society said.

No matter how cute and cuddly the bear looks, people should never try to feed it. That not only endangers them, but could hurt the bear’s chance of survival if it gets used to humans feeding it.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of having wild animals walking around their yard. So, there are some steps you can take to make your home and garbage less appealing to wildlife, without having to install an electric fence, according to the FWC:

Limit the natural food sources the bear might find around your home.

This could range from removing the nuts and berries from your trees, bushes and other plants. If you have a vegetable garden, you should also remove the vegetables once they’re ripened or if they fall on the ground.

This also includes any food you leave outside for your pets or the neighborhood cats. If you need to feed them outside, don’t leave. The smell could attract bears and other type of wildlife. Keep an eye on your pet’s plate and if they leave leftovers, throw it out properly.

Modify your trash can

First, contact your local waste service provider and see if they can give you a bear-resistant trash can. If they don’t have those, you could ask if they would service one you buy elsewhere.

Fair warning, they can be pricey, depending on what you need. The cheapest residential option the FWC lists on their website, for example, starts at $88. You can occasionally find cheaper ones if you surf the web.

If you’re pretty good with tools, you can also try to make your own trash can modifications, but make sure your waste provider is willing to service a modified trash can before you get to work.

You should also test the can out first before you even pick up a tool.

“Turn it on its side and stand on it,” the FWC recommends. “If the can collapses or the lid bends easily, it will not keep a bear out regardless of these modifications.”

Secure your home, garage and car

If you’re living in a bear-populated area or know there’s a bear running around your neighborhood, make sure your garage door is only open when you need to use it and that all your outside doors are closed and locked. If you’re really concerned, switch your door handles to round door knobs. The FWC says it’s harder for bears to open.

Keep your car locked and make sure you don’t leave anything scented inside like lip balm, food and even medicine. Anything with a scent could accidentally attract a hungry bear.

While these steps aren’t a definitive solution, the FWC said it can help minimize your risk of having a bear show up on your doorstep.

To learn more about bears, the rules and tips on how to live with them, click here.

A black bear was spotted in the dumpster Wednesday behind a Fort Myers brewery. The FWC was called and managed to scare it away.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM