POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Residents in Haines City reported seeing an unusual neighbor in the downtown area Wednesday, according to local authorities — a Florida black bear.

The Haines City Police Department did not say exactly where the bear was spotted but said there is no need for the public to panic. Police said bears generally avoid people and can usually be scared off by making sudden loud noises.

The department reminded residents that Florida black bears are still wild animals and should be treated with caution.

“Bears are very food-driven and spend a good part of their time looking for food. If you see a black bear it is likely looking for something to eat,” the department said in a news release.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it does not have any plans to trap the bear at this time, but recommends the following precautionary measures for residents:

  • Secure household garbage in a shed, garage or wildlife-resistant container,
  • Put household garbage out on the morning of pickup,
  • Secure commercial garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters,
  • Protect gardens, beehives, compost and livestock with electric fencing,
  • Feed pets indoors or bring dishes in 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 – bears love fruit!

FWC also reminded residents that screened enclosures are not secure and will not keep bears out.