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Questions growing after black bear is shot, killed in Royal Palm Beach

A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:10 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 17:34:41-04

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — A black bear shot dead over the weekend is causing quite the stir in a Royal Palm Beach neighborhood.

It was seen walking behind homes and climbing trees before Palm Beach County deputies shot and killed the bear.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is now saying it did not tell deputies to shoot, while the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office told WPTV its job is to prioritize safety over wildlife.

Two different decisions seem to have been made, ultimately ending in the shooting and killing of the bear that was found at the top of a tree.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Teri Barbera had previously mentioned that they were waiting for FWC officials to bring a bear trapper and a tranquilizer, but were forced to shoot the bear when it came down, fearing residents' safety.

In PBSO's report, one deputy stated that a wildlife officer ordered that if the bear were to come down from the tree prior to a trapper arriving, their orders were to neutralize the bear due to public safety.

Later on in the report, the deputy stated that the same FWC officer received word from his supervisor, saying they were to back away from the bear, keeping an eye on it until nightfall.

FWC responded, saying they were not waiting for a trapper or a tranquilizer and had advised the best approach was to let the bear leave the area on its own.

With the back-and-forth from both agencies, the question remains who ultimately makes the final call.

"It's miscommunication to the point we lost a beautiful animal for no reason whatsoever," resident Tim Harrison said. "We need to get to a point where everybody unifies up. Everybody is on the same page. You're gonna have bears. It's Florida. They should have more training in this."

WPTV asked both PBSO and FWC for an interview and answers as to what the policy is regarding bears in neighborhoods and who makes the ultimate call. For now, neither agency has responded with those answers.

If you feel threatened by a bear or you find a sick, injured, dead, or orphaned bear, call FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.