JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A Mandarin neighborhood is on bear patrol after a wayward black bear has been spotted there five times in the last few days searching for food.
"He ate this last night," said Bobby Gilmore holding up a frame of honey combs.
In the last two days, 20 gallons of honey have disappeared. And it doesn't take a private eye to solve this Winnie the Pooh whodunit.
"When I first saw him, he was standing on top of the fence," said Gilmore standing in his backyard off Ancona Drive West.
It's the day before Gilmore's son gets married and instead of clinking glasses in celebration, this local honey harvester is stuck moving beehives and banging pots.
"This is all I can do," he said demonstrating.
New cell phone video shows him scaring the bear away with a stick. These photographs were taken moments later.
"I never in my wildest dreams expected to see a bear coming over the fence," Gilmore said.
But this honey-loving hungry bear has been plaguing Jacksonville neighborhoods for the last several days. So in an effort to get him back in the woods where he belongs, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is trying to make his experiences around people as unpleasant as possible.
"Our officers are hazing the bear. They're making noises; they're shooting him with a bean bag gun," said FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker.
FWC advises people bring in any potential attractants (i.e. trash, pet food) from their yard.
"Bears are very lazy and very opportunistic. If there's a food source available, they're going to stay in the area," Parker said.
This is also mating season. If you see a bear in your neighborhood, do not approach it and call the FWC immediately at (888) 404-3922.
The best way to keep a bear away from your home is to:
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- Secure household garbage in a shed, garage, or a wildlife resistant container (like a bear-resistant container or caddy)
- Put household garbage out on morning of pick-up rather than the night before
- Secure commercial garbage in bear resistant dumpsters
- Protect gardens, apiaries, compost and livestock with electric fencing
- Encourage your home owners association or local government to institute ordinances on keeping foods that attract wildlife secure
- Feed pets indoors or bring in dishes after feeding
- Clean grills and store them in a locked, secure place
- Remove wildlife feeders or make them bear resistant
- Pick ripe fruit from trees and remove fallen fruit from the ground - bears love fruit!
about living with the Florida Black Bear.
The black bear population in Florida has grown from as few as 300 bears in the 1970s to more than 3,000 bears today.
The state is working on a plan to remove the bear from the threatened species list. Public comment on the management plan
will be taken until June 1.