- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The National Forests in Florida invites comments on proposed food storage restrictions for the Apalachicola, Ocala, and Osceola National Forests. They are taking the necessary and prudent steps toward public safety and from habituating wildlife by being unintentionally fed.
Not only have human and bear populations increased resulting in more encounters with bears, other wildlife lose their natural fear of people, become reliant on human foods, and can become more aggressive.
The Forest Service has taken necessary steps in campgrounds by providing wildlife-resistant trash cans and dumpsters. However, more actions are needed to prevent injury to members of the public and to keep wildlife wild.
Other national forests with a high potential for bear encounters such as the Daniel Boone, Inyo, and Gallatin have programs in place with food storage restrictions.
Under this proposal, the following acts would be prohibited on National Forests in Florida:
1. Possessing, storing, or leaving any food, refuse or bear attractant unless it is:
a. properly stored in a bear-resistant container;
b. suspended at least 10 feet clear of the ground at all points, suspended at least four feet horizontally from the supporting tree or pole, and suspended at least four feet from any other tree or pole adjacent to the supporting tree or pole;
c. stored in a closed motor vehicle without a soft, convertible top; or
d. being eaten, being prepared for eating or being transported.
2. Discarding or abandoning any food, refuse, or bear attractant unless it is:
a. disposed of in a bear-resistant trash receptacle which has been provided by the Forest Service for that purpose.
3. Burning or burying any food, refuse, or bear attractant.
-- Bear attractant means any substance having an odor that may attract bears, such as food, cooking grease, toothpaste, soap, and garbage.
-- Bear-resistant container means a securable container constructed of solid non-pliable material capable of withstanding 200 foot-pounds of energy. When secured and under stress the container will not have any cracks, openings, or hinges that would allow a bear to gain entry by biting or pulling with its claws. Wood containers are not considered bear resistant unless they are reinforced with metal.
-- Food means any nourishing substance, solid or liquid, which is not native to the immediate area, including nourishing substances for humans, pets, and livestock. Food does not mean water and baled hay.
-- Refuse means any discarded material or solid waste.
This decision would be categorically excluded from documentation in an EA or EIS under 36 CFR 220.6(d)(1) as a prohibition to protect public health and safety.
Please submit comments to: Susan Jeheber-Matthews
325 John Knox Road,
Tallahassee, FL 32303