Increased bear activity prohibits overnight camping

MARION COUNTY. Fla., ( WCJB) --- Florida may be known for its gators but its also bear country. Recent bear activity at the Juniper Prairie Wilderness camp site has led to overnight camping being prohibited.

The Ocala National Forest captured images of a Florida black bear slashing a tent at a juniper spring wilderness area, fortunately no people were nearby and the tent was empty.

"We're not allowing our guests and out visitors to camp in our juniper springs wilderness area due to heavy bear activity. We want to make sure that they are protected and not harmed and that they have a wonderful time on the forest, so we're just closing it to caping at this time," stated Antoinette Davis, National Resource Specialist at Ocala National Forest.

The area was closed for thirty days, because of increased bear activity but now it is back open for daytime use only.

" Florida bears don't have a true hibernation but they're pretty active all year, but they are moving around, some males are leaving, juvenile males are moving on, and they're hungry and curious, bears are very curious," stated Davis.

"You don't have to do anything but take a few simple precautions to be able to enjoy the outdoors. If you're going to recreate and taking a hike is to always if you have a dog, keep it on a leash, and make some noise, especially if you're in bear country it doesnt hurt to say " hey bear" every now and then," stated Greg Workman, FWC spokesperson.

Davis says campers are responsible for knowing the rules and regulations before going out to camp areas, to help prevent attracting bears.