Sometime between dusk on Thursday, Dec. 19 and 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, someone in Eastpoint shot a bear.
The shooting took place on Old Ferry Dock Road between Barber Drive and US 98.
Nearby resident Roger Keen said the bear had been a nuisance in the area for several months. He said it damaged a fence on his property and rummaged in garbage cans and visited a trailer park at nearby Washington Street.
Stan Kirkland, spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said FWC officers responded to a call from an unidentified person at around 9 a.m. Friday and found a 385-pound, dead, male bear.
FWC determined the animal had been shot, and said the shooting is under investigation. They would not disclose further details.
Kirkland said the bear was not tagged or collared and there was nothing to indicate it had earlier been labeled as a nuisance bear.
“We have had some people report a bear or bears in the area,” he said. “We have taken these reports seriously but we don’t necessarily move a bear simply because they come into urban or semi urban areas.”
Nearby residents said the area where the bear was shot is a dumping ground for garbage. Bears are attracted to easy food items especially in the fall and winter. It is illegal to shoot or harass a black bear in Florida.
FWC is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. Kirkland said rewards range from $25 to $1000.
“We need somebody who knows who shot this bear to contact our wildlife alert hotline at (888) 404-3922,” said Kirkland. “We guarantee anyone who calls anonymity.”
Florida law makes it illegal to “take” a bear, and defines that as pursuing, hunting, molesting, capturing, or killing, or attempting those actions, whether or not such actions result in possession of the bear.
In addition, rules prohibit anyone from possessing, injuring, shooting, wounding, trapping, collecting, or selling bears or their parts or attempting to engage in such actions without prior authorization from FWC.
Violation of these bear rule is a misdemeanor, which can result in fines up to $500 and/or 60 days in jail for a first offense. Prior offenses can result in higher penalties, with imprisonment up to one year, a fine of up to $1,000, and suspension of recreational hunting and fishing licensing privileges.
It is illegal to intentionally place food or garbage out that attracts bears and causes conflicts. Anything that attracts dogs, cats or raccoons will attract bears, too. If you are dumping garbage at the roadside or feeding pets and wildlife in unsecured containers, you are luring bears to the area and committing a crime.
If you are troubled with visiting black bears, the FWC advises you to make sure you are not feeding them unintentionally. Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or a wildlife-resistant container. Put household garbage out on morning of pickup rather than the night before. Protect gardens, apiaries, compost and livestock with electric fencing. Encourage your homeowners association or local government to institute ordinances on keeping foods that attract wildlife secure. Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding. Clean grills and store them in a locked, secure place. Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear-resistant. Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
Screened enclosures are not secure and will not keep bears out.