TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Kirby Lavallee found a bird feeder knocked over in his front yard, and at first, he suspected teens or maybe a stray dog. Then he checked his home security camera video and found an unexpected and uninvited guest.
“The next thing you know, I saw a big black, I mean five, six times the size of a dog, because sometimes we have some stray dogs, walking around down my street and the next thing you know, I saw it at my gate. Then I started looking and I looked on my patio and I was like, that’s definitely not a dog, that’s definitely a black bear,” said Lavallee.
WFLA viewers have shared other videos of bears seen recently in Carrollwood. Viewer Cynthia Bencomo said she spotted this black bear at her home around 1:30 a.m. Monday.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says this is the time of year when young bears are on the move, looking for new territory.
“So, right now these young dispersing bears are moving around the landscape trying to find new forests to live in and they are just exploring all of the area. If they find food, they might stick around,” said Michael Orlando with the FWC.
WFLA viewer Shannon Pillot said she also spotted a black bear in the Lutz area. On Saturday, around 7 a.m., Pillot captured video of the bear walking at the Lake Carlton Arms apartment complex.
Lavallee says he was mostly concerned about how his dogs might have reacted if they were outside when the bear was passing through.
“I mean, if it’s walking the property that’s one thing, but to be on my porch, especially with my dogs, and it’s not uncommon for my dogs to want to go outside for the bathroom at 2,3,4 in the morning, and that’s kind of the time frame that this was,” said Lavallee.
The FWC says you can keep bears away by limiting food sources outside of your home. If you do see a bear up close, the FWC says you should make noise.
“So the direct measure you can take is if you see a bear, at a distance somewhere, if you have a small dog, pick up the dog or pick up a small child, make yourself look bigger, you can talk to the bear for a second. In most of the cases, the bear is going to see you and run in the opposite direction,” said Orlando.
Lavallee says he accepts the fact there is wildlife near his home.
“I think it’s important for us to realize is like, this is nature. Florida is a nature state and we have to be cognizant of the fact that we live with them, just as much as they live with us,” Lavallee said.