JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Over the weekend, residents of a Jacksonville neighborhood were startled when a black bear made an unexpected appearance in their backyard. The incident was captured on video, and local residents shared their concerns about the presence of the wild animal.
Bob and Joanna Gray, the homeowners who witnessed the bear in their backyard, expressed their unease about the incident.
“It’s scary to know they had a bear in their backyard, but they are more worried for the wildlife,” Joanna Gray said. She added, “We use the backyard a lot for our three small dogs, so that’s a little scary to think one would show up, but I also feel bad for the bear being displaced.”
The bear sighting occurred on Sunday night at around 8:30 p.m. in the Old Still neighborhood.
The Grays were not the only ones who witnessed the wild animal. A neighbor a few blocks away, who preferred not to be identified, shared their backyard video showing the bear’s presence.
Bob Gray speculated on the bear’s possible motivation for visiting the area.
“I don’t even know if he was here for food. The neighbors smoked a brisket Sunday, so that may have brought them closer,” he suggested.
The Grays mentioned that encountering various animals in their neighborhood was not uncommon. They had previously seen tortoises, snakes, deer, pigs, and even otters.
The Grays also speculated that the recent development happening in the area could have contributed to the bear sighting.
“All along JTB headed out towards the beaches, you can see a lot of construction and land clearing out there,” Bob Gray pointed out.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Lisa Thompson, bear activity is more common during this time of year, particularly among juvenile bears that are beginning to venture away from their mother’s territory.
FWC states that when you see a black bear, you should attempt to scare them off using loud noise at a safe distance away.
Thompson reassured residents, stating, “Seeing a bear in a neighborhood is not necessarily cause for alarm.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) provided guidelines for dealing with bear encounters. They advised residents to scare off bears by making noise at a safe distance or by switching lights on and off. Furthermore, FWC recommended keeping garbage, pet food, and birdseed inside the home to prevent bears from being attracted to the properties.
Florida is home to over 4,000 black bears, with approximately 500 residing in the northern part of the state, according to a 2015 FWC report.
Just in 2022, FWC reported that in Florida over 300 bears were killed by roadways. In Northeast Florida, it was 183 bears.
Residents in the affected Jacksonville neighborhood are encouraged to remain vigilant and follow the FWC’s guidelines to ensure their safety and the well-being of wildlife in the area.
If you see a bear, you can learn more information on what to do by clicking the link HERE.
[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]