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Bear shooting under review by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

FWC says bear population has increased
Posted at 9:29 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 09:12:04-04

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Royal Palm Beach residents said a bear sighting shouldn't be a surprise, based on where they live. But they also said they wish Saturday's incident hadn't happened.

"I was called by a neighbor," Fred DeBisciglia said.

He said the neighbor told him to stay inside last Saturday because of a 300-pound black bear wandering the neighborhood.

"I finally saw the bear myself," he said. "As I was talking on the phone, it passed by my canal."

DeBisciglia said in the four years he's lived in the Royal Palm Beach area, he had not seen a bear in the community and said he wasn't frightened.

"It wasn't surprising, simply because we live near Loxahatchee, which is country," he said.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the 2014-15 bear population estimates for South Florida were just over a thousand, making it a 49% increase from 2002.

A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.jpg
A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.

Florida residents are learning how to coexist with bears as their habitat is being taken for development.

"You look at Florida and how many people are moving into the area and, obviously, that displaces wildlife," Amy Kight, with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, said.

She said bears are known to roam.

"It's nature," she said. "They're always looking for new space. Bears kind of set up a territory and they really don't want other bears."

DeBisciglia said he is troubled by Saturday's outcome that ended with the bear shot by sheriff's deputies.

"The only feeling is that we understand it's dead and we feel bad about it," he said.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the bear was shot Saturday since it had no place to roam safely and deputies feared the bear would roam into residential communities and impede traffic. A spokeswoman for FWC said Saturday's incident is under review.