Winter Haven Neighborhood Now Bear Free

A Winter Haven neighborhood was on watch Monday when a non-aggressive bear made his way into backyards of residents.

Police say the bear wandered into the neighborhood around Drexel Avenue in Lake Elbert on Monday morning. By the time Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers arrived the bear had climbed a tree and remained there all day after being spooked.

“We have a conservation success story. We have an increasing number of black bears in the state and the likelihood is that we’ll be seeing this type of thing more often as bear populations increase,” FWC spokesperson Gary Morse told WFLA.

Things got spookier for the bear as heavy storms caused the bear to climb higher into the tree. Officers tried to lure the bear with sweet treats like donuts and honey.

Just after 10:30 p.m. the bear finally came down from the tree to play with a trap set for him that contained donuts and honey.

Photo: WFLA viewer

FWC officers said he was not aggressive at all. The bear was hungry, thirsty, tired and nervous from all of the people and commotions.

With an increased bear population people are warned to not approach a bear if one is sighted. Call 911 or FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

Officials say bears are attracted to easy access food sources, such as garbage, pet food, and birdseed. Bears can quickly learn to associate homes and businesses with meals.

Sadly, bears that get too comfortable to neighborhood surroundings are more likely to be killed by vehicle collisions or by someone taking illegal actions.