Secure trash, food to keep grazing bears away

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Krystal M. Garrett
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
“Viewing bears wandering by woods or on base should not cause any concern,” said Patricia Williams, the natural and cultural resources program manager with the 1st Special Operations Wing Civil Engineer Squadron. “This is their habitat as well as ours. The best defense against bear-human conflicts lies in securing trash and food.”

Bears are a protected wildlife species, and it is illegal to feed, harm or kill bears in Florida.

“Feeding bears intentionally or unintentionally is prohibited by Florida law,” said Jordan Green, the West Panhandle Area Bear Biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The highest penalty for feeding bears comes after the fourth offense, which will result in a third degree felony. For Hurlburt Field residents, feeding bears is also in violation of the Corvias Military Housing tenant agreement.

Green said bears are most active in Fall as they are preparing to den for Winter and use their keen sense of smell to find more food.

“During Fall, bears increase their daily calorie intake from 5,000 to 20,000 calories,” Green said. “[Bears] have a sense of smell seven times greater than a bloodhound dog.”

Green said because of this, it is important that residents are playing their part in ensuring community safety.

By locking trash cans and making sure pet food isn’t left out, bird feeders are removed and ensuring grills and other outside cooking appliances are cleaned and secured, residents can help to mitigate human-bear encounters.

Special bear-proof trash containers are provided to base residents. If the container is not working or the locks are broken, residents can contact the Corvias Military Living office at (850) 344-0220 for a replacement container.

Although human-bear encounters are rare, but possible, if found in a situation where a bear sighting becomes too close for comfort, remain calm.

“Do not run and do not play dead,” said Green. “Back away slowly while making yourself big. Stand as tall as you can and stretch your arms.”

Making loud noises while avoiding eye contact scares bears and makes them uncomfortable.

If a bear is approaching, the most important thing is to get to safety. Seek shelter immediately, but do not run. Any immediate safety concerns should be directed to the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Law Enforcement Desk at (850) 884-7777.

“It is important to remember that bears are lazy grazers and will only frequent our homes if we provide them with a food incentive,” Williams said. “Once the incentive is removed it may take a couple of weeks for bears to accept the fact that there are no longer easy meals in the area.”

Prevention of regular bear visits is a community effort.
If you see someone violating the Corvias Military Housing tenant agreement, call the violations hotline at (888) 404-3922.
For more information on bears and additional safety tips visit