FWC hiring contractors to help with bear encounters

How would you like a job responding to bear encounters? The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is looking for people to do just that.

Central Florida is no stranger to bears. From a pair of bears snagging a slice of pizza earlier this month to dangerous attacks like one that left a DeBary woman with cuts on her face.  Another bear clawed Walter Hickox while going after his dogs in Daytona Beach.

"It took about a day, 18 hours or so before I really started to put everything together, realize how close to death I was," Hickox said.

A couple of months later, he's seeing bears again. His neighbor's camera caught one this week.

The FWC wants help preventing these encounters.

"Our contractors are that first level, where they reach out to figure out if additional help is needed, figure out if law enforcement needs to be there, figure out if the biologists need to be there, " said David Telesco, the FWC's bear management program coordinator.

The state believes there are more than 4,000 black bears in Florida. Last year, there were nearly 6,000 calls about bear encounters. The FWC is hoping to find people with flexible schedules and vehicles that can tow a trailer.

They'll also educate communities on how to avoid these encounters.

"These are the folks that are going to go out and talk to people about what’s going on in their neighborhood, what they can do to avoid problems," Telesco said.

"I think that there should be like a liaison in between, calling the big boys in," Hickox said. "Someone who can come in and educate you."

People interested in becoming a bear contractor can reach out to the FWC with their resume, contact information, area they live, and references at BearManagement@MyFWC.com  or FWC, Bear Management Program, 620 S Meridian St 6B, Tallahassee, FL 32399.