Black bear spotted roaming Lakeland neighborhood, FWC monitoring

Homeowners in a Lakeland neighborhood awoke to an unexpected visitor in their yards – a black bear.

The bear was seen wandering through the Shore Acres neighborhood in Lakeland since around 6 a.m. on Monday. It took a rest in Rebecca Carney's backyard throughout most of the day.

"It kind of set up shop, and it's taking a nice nap in my backyard," she said.

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Other neighbors called 911 after the bear made a surprise appearance in their backyards as well. The Lakeland Police Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) spent hours monitoring the bear as it paced between yards.

"They basically told me not to go into my backyard and to let the bear hunker down," said Carney. "It'll set a place up for itself in the shade. Maybe take a nap and just not go into my backyard while it destresses from all the commotion this morning."

A man who works nearby drove through the neighborhood to see the unusual sight, and he actually did briefly before the wild animal darted back behind a home.

"I've shot some big pigs before, but he's over 150 pounds for sure," he said. "He's probably pushing 300 or 400 pounds. You don't see them in town. You might see them out in Lake Wales on the backsides of the hills, but this is pretty rare."

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A spokesperson for FWC said it's not uncommon for bears to be in this part of the state and during this time of year, bears are more active. Juvenile bears are especially starting to disperse and leave their mothers' home ranges and may be seen in unexpected areas as they travel in search of a new location to settle down.

"I want everyone to be really safe and nothing bad to happen and for the bear to get captured, so it can be released somewhere more suitable for it," said Carney.

If the bear is given space, FWC officials said it'll simply move away from the area on its own.

If you see a bear, give it space, don't try to approach it, and never feed it. Contact the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 if you feel threatened by a bear; observe a sick, injured, dead or orphaned bear; or to report someone who is either harming bears or intentionally feeding them.


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