Florida sheriff thinks bear hunt could be solution to increase in encounters

In Florida's panhandle, Franklin County has had so many problems that its sheriff thinks bringing back a bear hunt could be a solution. He's asking if it would help his area and areas in central Florida that are dealing with black bears.

On Monday morning in Lake Mary, a three-legged bear ripped a hole in a screen door and made a beeline for an outdoor beverage fridge hoping to crack a sugary seltzer. The owner of the home was quick to shoe the bear away before it repeated its last invasion.

"A couple of weeks ago, he was in that one and made a whole mess on the back patio, had sodas and High Noons and a couple of White Claws all over the patio we had to clean it up," said Connie Gellner. "Puncture holes from his teeth all in them."

Gellner has lived in the home for 20 years. She has always seen bears but says lately it has become a much bigger problem.

RELATED: Florida county 'inundated' by bears, sheriff says

"Back then we would see one every two or three months, maybe," Gellner said. "Now we see one every day, every other day."

From a bear shutting down rides at Disney World to another refusing to get out from under someone's porch, it's been hard to keep track of all the recent sightings in Central Florida. 

In Florida's panhandle, Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith says there's been an increase over the past year. There have been so many that he's calling for the state to consider bringing back a bear hunt. So far he says he's been frustrated with how the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is responding to calls for help.

"I’m expecting our problem to get solved," Smith said. "I want to work together as a team, but when there’s no communication, then there’s no team,"

Sheriff Smith says after contacting the Governor's office, he was able to set up a meeting with the FWC for Thursday.

He hopes they can come up with a solution that can help both his county and Central Florida too.