Sebring man charged with killing black bear, cub in illegal trapping attempt

Highlands County

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has charged a Sebring man for shooting and killing a mother black bear and her cub while illegally trying to trap them without a permit.

FWC said John Falango, 43 of Sebring, shot and killed the two black bears in an illegal trapping attempt. Biologists and officers with FWC found the bears in the Sun ‘n Lake community in Sebring.

“Our officers work tirelessly to protect Florida’s natural resources and this egregious violation serves as a reminder of why our work is so important,” said Col. Roger Young, FWC Division of Law Enforcement. “The deliberate shooting of these two bears is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” 

Officials said they were able to trap one uninjured cub after arriving at the scene, and released it after finding it to be healthy. An additional cub was reportedly seen in the area but was not able to be trapped or relocated.

Falango has been charged with four counts of unlawful taking of a bear during closed season, four counts of trying to take a black bear without authorization or permit, four counts of trying to take a bear cub or bear with one or more cubs, and four counts of trying to take a bear by illegal method.

“I greatly appreciate the efforts of our law enforcement officers and biologists who worked diligently on this case,” said FWC Chairman Rodney Barreto. “The FWC provides numerous resources and information to the public on how to coexist with bears in Florida, therefore making this heinous act unacceptable.”

FWC said the case will be prosecuted by the State Attorney’s Office for the 10th Judicial Circuit. Falango will be arraigned on Dec. 1, according to FWC.

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