Viewers keep calling in reports of bear sightings to FOX 35, some even sending us pictures. It seems that, every time we mention bears, someone asks why there appear to be more bears wandering around in Central Florida this summer than in years past.
We got some proof on Thursday that that might be the case, when in the midst of reporting on this story on bears in Longwood, our crew crossed paths with a medium-sized black bear.
In the mist of the Sweetwater Oaks neighborhood, the bear was wandering and panting. He'd stop to scratch himself, similar to how a dog would. He appeared to be just as curious about our crew shooting video of him as the crew was about him.
Sweetwater Oaks resident Bruce Boyer says bears are everywhere. "I saw them more frequently this month," said Boyer. "I would say two full grown bears and two cubs," said Boyer of sightings just this month alone.
So far, this summer we've seen bears roaming into unexpected areas. You may remember last month there was a bear that called a tree near downtown Winter Park home for two days. And then there was the cub that climbed up a treat in the middle of Downtown Orlando. Florida Fish and Wildlife (FWC) tranquilized and relocated that one, because he was in an area where they feared curiosity over the bear could prove to be a problem.
FWC confirmed our theory. They say there has been a substantial increase in bear sightings this summer, for a few reasons. One being that we did not have a winter cold snap that would typically slow the bears down. Two, FWC says the bear population is steadily increasing. We're seeing them roam around now, because June, July and August are their mating season and male bears are not monogamous.
Pam Foxman considers the bears her neighbors. "We've had them in the back yard, front yard garage and on our porch," said Foxman. She showed us pictures to prove it. Foxman says the bear they found on their porch ate a 7-pound bag of bird feed, then took a snooze outside their sliding glass door.
FWC says if you see a bear, leave it alone. They recommend not putting your trash out on the curb until right before the garbage truck shows up. Bears love to eat garbage and even the most sophisticated trash can is no match for a hungry bear.
If a bear becomes a nuisance, call their Northeast Regional office at 352-732-1225.