FWC identifies bear responsible for attack of Longwood woman

DNA testing shows female bear mauled 54-year-old woman

Local 6 News at 7:00p
Local 6 News at 7:00p

LONGWOOD, Fla. – DNA testing has identified the bear responsible for attacking a Longwood woman earlier this month, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife officials.

FWC said on Tuesday that the female bear captured on Dec. 9 with two of her three cubs is the one that mauled 54-year-old Susan Chalfant on Dec. 2.

The results come after FWC euthanized two bears--a male and a female-- before the female bear and her cubs were trapped, saying those two male bears matched the description of the bear that attacked Chalfant.

Busch Gardens will temporarily house the bear and her cubs.

"I found it interesting that they had no where to put two bears and suddenly when the bear that actually was responsible for the attack was captured, they suddenly had a place to put them," said Tom Carrigan, who lives close to Chalfant.

Originally, wildlife officials said they would euthanize all bears that "fit the description" and were trapped in the area where Chalfant was attacked.

Officials wouldn't explain why they're not doing the same with the bear who left Chalfant with serious injuries to her face and head.

"I think killing anything except for roaches and mosquitoes is bad," said Marshall Pickard.

Many of Chalfant's neighbors support relocating problem bears, but Carrigan says a long-term solution is changing the time trash is collected.

"They pickup garbage at 6 a.m. sharp, twice a week, the bears know that- and when they come around, they tend to hang around longer," he said.

FWC said the plan is to release the cubs back into the wild this spring, after they have been weaned from the mother. After the cubs are released, the female bear will be transferred to an accredited facility.

"Throughout this tragic event our thoughts and concerns have been with Mrs. Chalfant and her family," said FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley. "We want to wish Mrs. Chalfant a speedy recovery from her injuries."

Chalfant was walking her two dogs when she was attacked. She suffered serious facial injuries and was hospitalized.

On Wednesday, a petition to stop putting down Florida black bears had over 2,700 signatures.

For more information about Florida black bears, visit MyFWC.com/Bear.