The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently euthanized an adult black bear in the Wynn Haven Beach community of Mary Esther in Okaloosa County. Because the female bear had killed a pet and livestock, the FWC had to euthanize the animal.
The female had raised two litters of cubs and been active in several neighborhoods in the area for a few years. This year, however, she became more bold and protective of her cubs.
The easy availability of human-provided foods like trash, bird seed and pet food in neighborhoods caused the bear to completely lose her natural fear of people. In addition, she killed chickens and a dog on separate occasions. After multiple attempts, the FWC was able to trap her on Nov. 29.
Her two cubs were captured by the FWC and relocated northwest of Wynn Haven Beach onto Eglin Air Force Base property. While cubs normally stay with their mothers for 18 months, the chances of survival for these cubs are relatively good.
“The cubs have been with their mother long enough that they are no longer fully dependent on her,” FWC Bear Management Program coordinator Dave Telesco said.
“Remember though that the worst thing people can do is to feed the re-located cubs,” Telesco said. “The best chance they have at survival is if they can learn to stay in the woods and not rely on people.”
The 250-pound female and her 100-pound cubs were much heavier than typical Florida bears living in the woods. Bears grow larger and produce more cubs when they have regular access to human-provided foods, which increases the number of bears living in neighborhoods and causing human-bear conflicts.
“This situation was preventable. If those bears did not have easy access to trash and other human-provided foods, they would likely have just passed through the neighborhood,” Telesco said.
The FWC has a wide variety of options from which people can choose to secure garbage and other items that attract bears. Go to MyFWC.com/Bear or call the Northwest Regional Office at 850-265-3676 for additional information.
Image courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission