Kim Crum had unexpected guests on Christmas Eve.
The Lanark Village woman had planned to spend the evening with her mother but, around 8:30 p.m., she returned home to 1-1 Parker St. to retrieve a forgotten item. Crum said she heard something in the living room where the sliding glass doors were slightly open because they do not shut properly.
Sticking through the crack between the glass doors was a nose and the nose was attached to a large black bear. In fact, Crum said there were two adult bears on her front patio.
When Crum retreated to the back door hoping to make her escape, she found a bear cub picking through the remains of the shed she uses to store her garbage.
Crum said she had previous dealings with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) over the bears frequenting Lanark. FWC had advised her to use the plywood shed to store garbage, she said.
On Christmas Eve, she telephoned the Wildlife Alert hot line (888-404-3922) to ask that an officer be sent to help her. The dispatcher at the FWC office was no help, Crum said, and told her there was no FWC officer on call.
“Excuse me, you mean to tell me you don’t have nobody on call?” Crum said she asked the operator.
“It’s Christmas Eve and they want to be with their family too,” Crum said the woman replied.
“I’d like to be home with my family instead of being trapped here by two bears at my front door and one at my back,” Crum said.
Crum said the FWC dispatcher told her to get a pan and bang it to frighten the bears on her front porch away. She said she was banging the pan while still on the phone to FWC but the bears didn’t retreat.
Crum said she then told the dispatcher she was going to call a local television station about the situation.
After she did so, and the story was aired, Crum said FWC officers arrived the next day and set up an electric fence around the small shed where she stores her garbage until the regular Monday trash pick-up.
Crum said the fence didn’t work and the bears tore the door open again the day after Christmas.
She said she has since learned that Ricky Banks of Eastpoint, a wildlife control technician, was on call on Christmas Eve and had dealt with another bear problem earlier that day.
Terry Martin, an acting lieutenant for the FWC, said FWC records show the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office dispatched an officer to Crum’s apartment on Dec. 24 at 9:13 p.m. to deal with the bear.
Crum said there is nothing unusual about having bears around her apartment. She said they come every night around 11 p.m. but on Christmas Eve, they were unusually early.
She said that earlier this year, she let her Chihuahua “Dodger” out into the yard and heard him barking. Crum said when she ran out, a bear cub had Dodger in its mouth and was about to carry the dog away. Crum shouted at the cub, which then dropped Dodger.
The tiny dog was so traumatized by the experience he refused to leave the house for several days, Crum said. “All he would do is shake,” she said, noting that Dodger was otherwise unhurt.
She said bears have torn all the screens from the house next door.
Crum said she believes the bears may be attracted by cat food left around her apartment.
She said one neighbor has a cat door on his porch so the felines can access food there. Crum said a bear entered the porch to steal cat treats in the past and FWC was not called.
Crum said bears have also broken a neighbor’s truck window to obtain garbage stored in the cab.
Martin said a bear trap was installed at the apartment on December 26 and one adult bear has been relocated. He said an investigation of Crum’s Christmas Eve bear encounter is ongoing.