Efforts Stepped Up to Deal with Bear in Ave Maria
Published on Friday, 03 August 2012 21:19
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Ave Maria property managers are increasing their efforts to deal with the bear who has been roaming the town for several months, foraging for food and causing concern among residents. Right, the bear in an alley in the Hampton Village neighborhood recently. (photo Andrew Guernsey)
Law enforcement officers from the FWC were planning to be in Ave Maria Friday night, commission spokesperson Carli Segelson said. "The FWC is taking this situation very seriously," she said. "The safety of residents is always our primary concern."
Ms. Segelson said the FWC enforcement officers will be in Ave Maria Friday night to try to observe the bear and, if they see it, to "haze it and attempt to scare it off."
If the commission then determines the bear is a threat, "the FWC will take appropriate action," Ms. Segelson said.
The bear has been seen in every Ave Maria neighborhood, including the town center, for months at times ranging from early evening – when it was still daylight – to late at night. Most recently, he has been wandering the Emerson Park neighborhood on Tuesday and Wednesday night, when he took a swipe at a resident's dog and also showed up around 9:30 p.m. moaning outside a screened lanai where kids were swimming in a pool. No one has had any personal contact with the bear and there have been no injuries. Left, the bear at the door of The Bean of Ave Maria about a month ago, in a picture taken by owner Daniel Dix on his cell phone.
On both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, Collier County Sheriff's Office deputies came out to help scare the bear away.
The bear's main interest has been in eating garbage and the FWC and Ave Maria town managers are stressing the importance of "eliminating attractants." Flyers have been distributed to homeowners reminding them not to put garbage out the night before pick-up days and advising them on the availability of more bear-resistant garbage containers.
The FWC attempted to trap the bear a few weeks ago, but, Ms. Segelson said, "since there is so much readily available food, the bear has not felt compelled to enter the trap."
Removing a bear, she added, is "only a temporary solution because bears can travel great distances to return to their home range. If the bear cannot be successfully relocated, it will likely need to be destroyed."
The FWC also offers this advice:
- Do not approach the bear.
- Do not use dogs to attempt to scare off bears as this may put the pet in jeopardy.
- Do not leave dog or cat food outside.
Residents are asked to report all bear sightings to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.
There also will be an opportunity to raise matters relating to the bear at the August meeting of the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 9 a.m. AMSCD board member Liesa Priddy also is a commssioner of the FWC.
For more information, see previous Ave Herald stories:
Bear in Ave Maria Getting Bolder and Bolder
Bear Sightings Increase - What You Can Do
And for a somewhat more lighthearted take, read Ave Herald Editor Patricia Sette's Collier Citizen column Saucy becoming stuff of legend.