CARROLLWOOD, Fla. (WFLA) — Residents in Carrollwood are on high alert after several reports of bear sightings.
“We were all sitting there watching TV and we heard somebody, we saw lights come up, and we all panicked and they said there was a bear right there in your yard,” said Lorraine Yeager.
Eric Costello took a photo of the bear near the tree outside of Yeager’s vacation home in the Village Wood neighborhood.
“I was scared to death because I have my grandchildren here, and we were just outside looking for frogs,” said Yeager.
Video taken by Costello shows the bear running across the street and into yards as it took off.
“They had all kind of fire equipment and police cars with lights coming around the neighborhood last night, they were looking for it,” said Yeager.
“Right on a triple culdesac, quiet neighborhood,” said Curt Daniels, who was shocked by the sighting. “We’ve had gators, cottonmouths, but never would have thought a bear would be in the neighborhood.”
Members of the community sent a warning to the neighborhood to be on high alert.
Law enforcement also responded to the nearby Meadows neighborhood for another bear spotting this week, but they were not able to locate the bear.
Now neighbors are playing it safe.
“We wore our running shoes today when we took our dogs for a walk just in case we case we had to get moving,” said Daniels.
8 On Your Side reached out to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. A spokesperson said that there is no way to tell if these sightings are the same bear because they are unconfirmed.
“The first reports that we received regarding this bear were from Hernando County, moving south. We continue to encourage the public to give the bear space to pass through the area on its own,” said FWC Senior Officer Bryce Phillippi.
FWC released the following unconfirmed bear sightings:
- On Sunday, June 6 FWC received a report of damage to an apiary located near Gunn Highway and Sheldon Road.
- On Tuesday, June 8 FWC received an unconfirmed bear sighting at approximately 4:00 a.m. near the Citrus Park Mall.
- On Wednesday, June 9 FWC received two unconfirmed bear sightings; the first unconfirmed bear sighting was at approximately 4:00 a.m. in the Carrollwood Meadows neighborhood and the second unconfirmed bear sighting at approximately 10:30 p.m. near the Village Wood neighborhood.
“In late May and early June, we often receive reports of black bears wandering into high-density urban areas of Florida. The wayward bears involved are usually around 18 months old and weigh in around 150lbs. The bears have just become independent from their mothers and as they look for a new place to live and how to handle life on their own, they can end up in areas they shouldn’t be,” said Officer Phillippi.
The FWC continues to monitor the bear’s movements through reported sightings. The FWC encourages the public to report sightings of this bear to the FWC’s Southwest Regional Office at 863-648-3200.