LAKE MARY, Fla. – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that people feeding bears in the Lake Mary neighborhood where a woman was attacked are "signing their (the bears) death warrant."
Officials said on Wednesday that they've received many calls about having to take action against the bears. FWC responded saying that they are not killing all bears they see in the Carisbrooke neighborhood, only the ones that show no fear to humans, meaning they cannot be safely relocated anywhere in Florida.
"We are having to do and take action against the bears for a specific reason and public safety is number one," said FWC.
On Tuesday, FWC said they had captured and killed a seventh bear near the subdivision, which backs up to the Wekiva Wildlife preserve.
FWC didn't say that they have identified the bear that attacked Terri Frana Saturday night at her home at 1900 Brackenhurst Place. FWC said although they are testing the bears for DNA, the tests may come back inconclusive and they may never find the exact bear that attacked Frana.
Six of the bears were captured and euthanized and one was shot and killed, officials said. The latest bear captured and euthanized was an adult female bear, according to FWC.
Residents are also aiming to take measures if there are bear problems in their neighborhoods. Teri Miller started a Facebook page five years ago called "Bears of Wekiva" when she realized her neighborhood had a bear problem.
Since the Lake Mary attack, Miller says more than 100 people joined. She said she understands officers are targeting bears that have no fear of people, but believes that the state needs to do a better job of educating the public about co-existing with bears/
FWC said if you encounter a bear at close range speak to the bear in a calm, assertive voice while backing up slowly toward a secure area. Be sure you are leaving the bear a clear escape route. Stop and hold your ground if your movement away seems to irritate instead of calm the bear. Do not run or play dead. If a black bear attacks you, fight back aggressively.
The FWC also reminded residents to be aware of their surroundings and always supervise pets and children while outdoors. Residents should contact the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC to report any threatening bear activity.
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