Why Be BearWise?

First and foremost, BearWise communities reduce human-bear conflicts.

BearWise communities are not only safer for people and bears, they also can avoid liability if a person is injured by a bear.

‘When an entire neighborhood comes together to take responsibility to be BearWise, they are taking the most effective step to reduce community-wide conflicts”

David Telesco, Bear Management Program Coordinator
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


At least 21 communities throughout North America apply BearWise practices, resulting in fewer bear conflicts. For example:

Poster created by Hurlburt Air Field personnel

  • Hurlburt Air Field in Okaloosa County lessened human-bear conflicts by 70%.
  • Wingfield North in Seminole County;  St. Teresa and Alligator Point in Franklin County; and Ave Maria in Collier County all saw bear conflicts drop soon after adopting BearWise practices.
  • Hog Wild BBQ in Carrabelle, Florida, secured their restaurant dumpster with modified lids and cut the number of bear encounters significantly.

How to Create a BearWise Community

Step 1: Investigate!

Are Bears Getting Into Garbage & Other Food?

Look for garbage, birdfeeders, pet food, and greasy barbecue grills that attract bears craving calories.

Are Local Authorities Getting Calls About Bears?

Fish and wildlife biologists, conservation officers or law enforcement officers may help you assess the issues in your community.

Step 2: Organize!

Talk to Your Neighbors and Organize

Discuss bear issues with your neighbors. When you are ready to take action, contact your local fish and game agency, community leaders and trash haulers.

Some states may offer a BearWise certification program with benefits for participating communities. Check with your state.

Step 3: Act!

Please be sure to follow steps 1 and 2 first

You and your community don’t have to start from scratch. You can adapt your plan using the tools and techniques pioneered by bear-resistant communities that are already up and running. See the resources below.

BearWise Toolkit


Many BearWise Communities have drafted and passed ordinances (i.e., regulations) that support BearWise behavior. The ordinances address such issues as wildlife-resistant trash storage, pet food storage, necessity for clean barbecue grills and bear-resistant deployment of bird feeders.

Other recommendations for Bear Wisdom

Examples of BearWise signs

BearWise communities don’t have to start from scratch…There are great ideas to borrow and adapt.