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Amid a recent rise in bear encounters in Santa Rosa County, State Representative Doug Broxson (R–Midway) announced Wednesday that he would join officials from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to host a public workshop for area residents to learn how to prevent bear activity around their homes and property.

With the black bear population in Florida expanding and growing, and people are encountering them more and more, said Broxson’s office in a release, noting that FWC officials have reported a “dramatic” increase in human-bear conflicts in Santa Rosa County. “The presence of bears in residential areas is still on the rise,” said Rep. Broxson. “We must address the safety and property damage concerns of residents by reducing human-bear encounters through FWC teaching citizens proactive measures such as securing attractants like garbage and pet food, spreading awareness, and reporting bear activity.”

While black bears are rarely aggressive toward people, they can become bold when they grow accustomed to feeding on human-provided foods, such as pet foods, garbage, and bird seed, officials said. When this happens, black bears associate people with food and can lose their fear of humans. By learning how to eliminate food availability, most human-bear conflicts can be prevented. Officials from the FWC will answer questions and discuss preventative measures homeowners can take to reduce the likelihood of a bear encounter.

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