Florida black bear shot illegally in Levy County

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A Levy County woman tells FOX 13 she refused to let a pair of men get away with the body of a black bear after she claims they illegally shot and killed the animal.

“I heard the shot and I burst out of my house and the bear was right there on that curb,” said Jayne Avery.

Avery says she feared the worst last week when she heard the single gunshot outside the door at her apartment complex.   When she came out, she says she saw a black bear shot dead and two men trying to take it away.

“They were steady, trying to get him in the truck, and I was screaming no,no, no,” said Avery.

Cell phone pictures show the bear that Avery says was a common sight in her complex over the past year. She says he would only come around to take what food he could from a dumpster.

“I think the worst person he bothered was the maintenance man, because he had to clean up the garbage afterwards,” she said.

But she thinks a new neighbor may have been spooked and called someone to take care of the bear who was hiding high up in a tree.

“They were kind of talking up to the bear and saying, 'You're not going to come out of that tree tonight.' They were just acting not right,” said Avery.

When she went inside to call police, that's when she heard the gunshot. She came back outside to find the men trying to load the massive mammal on the back of their pickup, but the 60-year-old wasn't going to let that happen.

“I knew it was illegal and I just had to do what I could do to save his carcass,” she said. “I just had strength that I didn't realize, and I would just pull his paws and his carcass would fall back down and they would begin to hoist him back up.”

Back and forth they went, Avery not letting the pair leave with their prize.

“Finally I just kind of sat down over him and i guess they saw I wasn't leaving so they sped away,” said Avery.

Law enforcement are still looking for the men.  FWC officials say they are looking into what happened. Officials say shooting a bear out of season is illegal and could result in a $500 fine or up to 60 days in jail.