SAFETY HARBOR, Fla. - Philippe Park in Safety Harbor will remain closed through Friday as Florida wildlife officials continue to comb Pinellas County for a black bear on the loose.
County officials closed the park Tuesday after a park ranger spotted the juvenile bear during the morning hours.
However, that wasn't the first sighting. The bear has been seen in Hernando and Pasco counties. Then, in Oldsmar and in Clearwater.
Clearwater police released home surveillance video of the bear near Curlew Road and Countryside Boulevard on Saturday. They said it made its way south near the Countryside Recreation Center and Misty Springs condos. By the time officers arrived, however, they couldn't find it.
Experts said the bear is likely a juvenile, roughly 18 months old and 150 pounds. FWC officials say it is probably searching for a new habitat since bears at this age are often on their own for the first time. FWC officials said bears can travel miles in a day, making it difficult and stressful on the animal.
For now, FWC is not planning on trapping the bear. If you see a black bear, FWC advises against moved toward the bear.
"If encountered at close range, you should remain standing upright, speak to the bear in a calm and assertive voice, slowly back up toward a secure area leaving the bear a clear escape route and avoid direct eye contact," according to an FWC statement. "Stop and hold your ground if your movement appears to irritate, rather than calm, the bear."
Bear sightings can be reported to FWC by calling 863-648-3200.