File photo of a black bear attempting to get at some delectable trash in a Panhandle neighborhood. / Special to the News Journal
Navarre, Florida (PNJ) -- A young black bear reportedly struck and killed in Navarre appears
to be the sad consequence of a growing number of bear and human
interactions in the area this year, according to authorities.
Wednesday morning, members of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission were called to U.S. 98, near Sunrise Drive, where the female
black bear, weighing about 110 pounds, was found dead just off the road.
January, the commission has received 360 calls about bear sightings in
communities bordering Eglin Air Force Base, including Santa Rosa,
Escambia, Okaloosa, and Walton counties, as compared to 249 during the
same time period last year, regional spokesman Stan Kirkland said.
corresponding bump in bear encounters, has prompted state Rep. Doug
Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, and members of the commission to schedule a
public workshop for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the South Santa Rosa Center to
discuss the issue and safety measures residents can take to protect
their home and property.
last count, there were approximately 3,000 black bears living in
Florida, according to FWC. In the Eglin region, they appear to be moving
farther west, Kirkland said.
towns develop and new developments open up, it's a situation where
we've seen across the state people who are moving into wildlife
habitats; and now, they're face to face with the creatures that inhabit
them," he said.
Broxson said he had his own encounter 10 days ago while riding his bike.
ran out in front of me at Tiger Point," he said. "Bears are going to
become a part of our future. ... They're looking for territory they can
be dominant in."
far, FWC has not received reports of injuries or significant property
damage among humans from the bear encounters, according to Kirkland.
bears, however, haven't fared quite as well. Four bears have been
recovered after being struck and killed from vehicles this year,
according to the commission.
In the latest case, it is unclear when exactly the bear was hit or if there was any damage to the vehicle.
Based on where the animal was found, Kirkland said the bear was likely alive for some period of time after it was struck.
While the exact age of the bear has not been determined, Kirkland said "It's safe to say, it's likely a young bear."