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Wildlife officials weigh in on string of bear sightings

Residents concerned about bear running loose in neighborhood
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Posted at 3:37 PM, Jul 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-25 17:39:54-04

JUPITER, Fla. — More bears are being reported roaming in people's neighborhoods, with the latest spotted over the weekend in Jupiter.

Another bear was spotted in Jupiter, this time in the Riverwalk community, just north of Indiantown Road.

"I was super surprised. I did not count on seeing a bear around this area at all," Chris Bartimus said.

Bartimus was working when he spotted a bear on surveillance camera.

"He was sitting right on that branch," Bartimus said.

The biggest concern is that the bear was in a tree just feet away from a playground.

"We don't want our children mauled by a bear. We don't want to hit a bear by a car," homeowners association president Ron Perholtz said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials told officers and Perholtz to just let the bear roam free, as it was not a threat to the community.

"I said, 'Well, that's not acceptable because we have 1,000 people in this community. We're east of (Interstate) 95 and there's no way we can let a bear run loose.' And nobody seems to be concerned," Perholtz said. "I am."

The bear eventually came down and was found up on a tree near another home. Again, FWC officers did not want to tranquilize the bear. The bear was also spotted 2 1/2 miles up another tree.

"Police will taser a person but will not tranquilize a bear. That makes no sense," Perholtz said.

The FWC said it's aware of the bear and have now set up a trap to relocate the bear to a more remote area.

"We as humans also need to educate ourselves on how we co-exist with these animals that are now being pushed into our neighborhoods," Busch Wildlife Sanctuary executive director Amy Kight said.

Kight said this is part of the change being seen throughout Florida.

"It's just something we haven't seen before, but I do believe it's something we are going to see more of as Florida continues to be more developed," Kight said.

But some residents still think this bear should be captured and moved.

"It could be a disastrous situation," Perholtz said. "Somebody could get hurt."

The FWC said anyone who comes across the bear should stay away from it and not feed it.