JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A black bear was found shot to death last week near Pumpkin Hill Creek Preserve State Park, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
FWC said the male bear, which weighed 200 to 250 pounds, was found dead Dec. 10 outside a gated home on Boney Road.
FWC removed the animal and was able to retrieve the bullet. FWC said it was not a previously-tagged bear.
A woman who lives in the area said it’s common to see wildlife -- from hogs to deer, but not black bears.
Killing a bear without a hunting license is a second-degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 60 days in jail. FWC estimates that there are about 4,000 black bears across the state.
Anyone with information can call FWC at 888-404-3922 and be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
The rapid development in Northeast Florida has encroached on bear habitat, and in the last five years, News4JAX has reported on bears roaming neighborhoods in Clay County (Green Cove Springs, Middleburg, Lake Asbury), Duval County (Southside and Bartram Springs), and St. Johns County (Nocatee).
In 2015, FWC allowed a one-weekend bear hunt, during which 300 bears were taken. There were lawsuits and protests, and a hunt hasn’t been done since then.
Adam Sugalski is the executive director of OneProtest. He’s spearheaded efforts to stop those hunts, and he said it’s concerning that the FWC said it believes the bear was killed during the afternoon and dumped overnight.
“You see where bears come for food in a new development where a person leaves their trash out. You know if it was self-defense they would probably call FWC themselves,” Sugalski said.
FWC says if you encounter a bear, don’t take matters into your own hands.
For more information about the Florida black bear, visit https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/bear/.