Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Collier Bear Returns To Palm Beach

Black Bear Sent To Ocala National Forest

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission successfully removed a black bear in Palm Beach County on Wednesday afternoon. The 300-pound bear has been spotted several times over the past three days in the Wellington area. The bear will be relocated to the Osceola National Forest in North Florida.

(file photo of bear courtesy FWC)

The bear was identified as the same bear that was captured in Weston, Broward County, last month. The bear had been relocated to Picayune Strand State Forest in Collier County at that time.

FWC law enforcement officers and biologists spotted the bear Wednesday morning in shrubs alongside a canal and Southern Boulevard, across from Palms West Hospital. Staff monitored its location until David Hitzig, with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, arrived to tranquilize it. Hitzig often assists FWC with tranquilizing, as he is certified to administer the chemical immobilization drugs.

FWC decided to tranquilize the bear because it did not appear to be able to find its way out of the area safely. The bear had taken refuge in a small patch of shrubs between a canal and a busy roadway for more than 24 hours. The bear was tranquilized for its own safety and that of the motoring public.

''A bear that wanders into a suburban area likely will retreat and find its way out on its own if it doesn't find any no food attractants,'' said Dave Telesco, FWC's bear management coordinator. ''But this bear was in an area where we were concerned that it could not get out safely on its own.''

"This bear will be put into an area where there is more forested habitat and fewer people," Telesco said. ''We hope it will choose to settle down in the Osceola National Forest."

There are between 2,500 and 3,000 black bears in Florida, and even though they remain listed as a threatened species, it is not uncommon to see bears as development encroaches upon their habitat. When a bear does appear in residential areas, it is very important for residents to remove or secure anything that might attract animals, such as garbage cans, pet food, birdseed, outdoor grills and compost bins.

Residents can call an FWC regional office to report bear sightings or to ask questions about bears. To report a potential wildlife law violation, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

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