Black bear photographed in Palm Beach County - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Black bear photographed in Palm Beach County

By Jeff Skrzypek

LOXAHATCHEE, FL (WFLX) - Florida Fish and Wildlife is looking into new photographs that have emerged depicting a large black bear roaming in Palm Beach County.

The images of the black bear were captured by a resident using a motion-sensor wildlife camera in western Palm Beach County.

A spokesperson for FWC said they have no reason to believe the photos are not real. "I never knew Florida had bears to be honest," said Walter Cassidy, a resident who lives near the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area where the bear was spotted.

Cassidy, who lives in Loxahatchee, said he knows there are wild boar, snakes and gators near his home. The idea a bear could be roaming near his house never crossed his mind especially in South Florida. "I mean it's a definite concern because you're dealing with a wild animal, especially a bear. You never know what could happen. I've been told about boars and wild turkeys, that I can deal with. A bear? That's a different story," said Cassidy.

The pictures were released on Tuesday by FWC.

David Hitzig at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter said there is no doubt the sighting of the black bear is legitimate. "For us, in this area, it's a rare sighting. People don't get a chance to see this," said Hitzig.

Judging by what he sees in the two photos, Hitzig estimates the male, black bear is a healthy 300 pounds.

Hitzig said while bears are mostly seen in central and northern Florida, the sighting is a this one threatened species is making a comeback. "I think the last thing anyone needs to do is worry about whether this is a potential danger to us," said Hitzig.

In the recent case in April, where a woman was attacked by a bear near Orlando, Hitzig said it happened because people were feeding bears and drawing them into residential neighborhoods.
    
Staying away from the bear will not be a problem for resident Walter Cassidy. "As long as he keeps his distance from me, I'm fine with him. You know, don't bother me I won't bother him," said Cassidy.

FWC said there have been three recent reported sightings in Palm Beach County of black bears, none though with photographic evidence.

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