BRANDON, Fla. (FOX 13) - A bear in the middle of a neighborhood in Brandon gave neighbors quite the surprise this week.
Standing in his yard, Miguel Vallejo couldn't believe what he saw.
"I look over to my left, and I'm like what is that? It looks like one of those big dogs, like a Scooby Doo dog, something like that," said Vallejo. "I got closer, started walking towards it, and it turns its face at me. I'm like ‘Oh my gosh! That's a bear!'"
He guesses it was five feet long.
If Michelle Nedley had not seen it on her own surveillance cameras, she would not have believed it either.
"The lady down the street first called and said ‘I think there's a bear in your front yard,' and I thought ‘Oh yeah okay, there's no bear. There aren't any bears in Brandon,'" said Nedley.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and Commission believes the same bear was first spotted June 15 in Polk County, then it traveled west to Hillsborough County and was spotted near the Brandon Regional Hospital and in a neighborhood on Charles Place Wednesday. FWC has not received sighting reports since then.
FWC spokesperson Melody Kilborn said the movement is actually not unusual.
"They are dispersing from their family units, and they are searching for their own home range," said Kilborn. "It's also the beginning of bear breeding season, so the bears might be moving around in a little wider range than they typically would."
Kilborn said you should keep pets on a leash outdoors and not leave pet food or trash around outside.
It just happened to be trash night when the bear wandered onto Charles Place.
"You can see him coming to the trash can and kind of sniffed a little bit and continued on," said Nedley, describing the bear's actions.
But don't expect wildlife workers to trap the animal.
"Rather than intervening, we would like to give the bear the opportunity to continue to move through to an area that would be suitable habitat," said Kilborn.
And be sure to keep your distance if you see one.
"Just let it go about his business and hopefully he finds a new place to live," said Nedley.
FWC shared that bears can travel long distances in a short amount of time.
Kilborn said enough people have called in sightings, so FWC is tracking the bear's movement. They do want you to call a bear attacks or interacts with humans in any way.