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Emails suggest FWC knew bear was unrelated to woman’s attack before it was euthanized

An internal state email suggests Florida Fish and Wildlife officials killed a black bear last month even though they had an idea that the bear had nothing to do with an attack on a Seminole County woman. (WFTV)
An internal state email suggests Florida Fish and Wildlife officials killed a black bear last month even though they had an idea that the bear had nothing to do with an attack on a Seminole County woman. (WFTV)
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Updated: 1/12 2:31 am
SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. (WFTV) — An internal state email suggests Florida Fish and Wildlife officials killed a black bear last month even though they had an idea that the bear had nothing to do with an attack on a Seminole County woman.

Susan Chalfant, 54, was attacked on Dec. 2 in Longwood. Days later, a 200-pound female bear was caught and euthanized. A male bear was then captured and killed, but emails suggest FWC knew that bear was not involved in the attack but was killed anyways.

Email: Click here to see the email

Channel 9s Karla Ray said the accusation is documented in dozens of emails sent between upper management, public information officers and bear team leaders.

"Well, I believe they euthanized the wrong ones," said Daniel Conrad. "They should make sure they have the right ones before they euthanize them."

In an email on Dec. 8, a second bear fitting the description of the attack on Chalfant, a community relations specialist wrote, "Male bear caught in trap unrelated to injury event."

But less than 45 minutes later, a manager responded they were going to put down the bear because it fits the criteria mentioned in the talking points.

The day after the bear was euthanized Channel 9 asked why testing wasn't done first.

"Obviously one of these bears didn't attack anybody," said Channel 9's Karla Ray.

"Well, you have to remember public safety is No. 1 right now," said Officer Lenny Salberg.

That was the response even though an email written the night before suggests that bear wasn't a threat to the public at all, said Ray.
FWC told Channel 9 in a statement that the email in question was an internal email written with preliminary information by a communications person and not a biologist in the field.
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