Black bear spotted roaming Polk County

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A Florida black bear has been spotted near Lakeland Linder International Airport several times since the weekend.

More recent sightings in Plant City are thought to be the same one seen in Lakeland.

Pamela Simmons, who lives just south of the airport, was having her coffee at a table in her garage early Sunday morning when it caught her eye.

"I was looking down at my phone and I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, and my first thought was, 'That's a really big dog,'" Simmons told FOX 13. "I looked up and it wasn't a dog."

It was a bear. Biologists suspect it is a juvenile male, the same one that Pablo Del Valle saw around the same time the following day.

He was getting out of his car in the parking lot of Ferrera Tooling, just west of the airport, when heard his co-worker yell his name to get his attention.

"At first, I didn't see it," he explained.

When he did, the sight really shook him up.

"I didn't know if I should stay in the car or run away," he said. "I was shocked. I was terrified."

Biologists say that is an overreaction.

"They're thinking 'flight' most of the time," said David Telesco, Bear Management Program coordinator for FWC. "They look intimidating and can be fairly large, but they're usually afraid of us."

Problems crop up when people get too close or feed them, which makes them less wary of humans.

Telesco says this is breeding season. Adult bears tend to wander looking for a mate. Younger ones, especially males, are looking for new territory to claim.

If you see a bear in your neck of the woods, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Southwest regional Office at (863) 648-3200.