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State wildlife officers report multiple bear sightings in Pasco and Hernando county

The bear was spotted in Port Richey
Bear sighting
Posted at 10:00 PM, May 21, 2021

PORT RICHEY, FLA.- — A home surveillance camera caught video of a black bear taking a stroll through a neighborhood on Thursday night.

The camera caught video of the bear at a home not far from Gulf Highlands Drive in Port Richey.

It happened around 11:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Kalyn Lehr said her phone had notifications on it when her cats woke her up around 2:30 a.m. She checked her camera to find the video of a bear on it.

Bear footage

"I think it's awesome. I'm so glad. We haven't seen any big wildlife since we moved here from Pennsylvania. I've seen bears all the time up there, but to see one down here. It's just so cool," said Lehr.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it received multiple reports. Wildlife officers believe it is a juvenile bear. Neighbors spotted the bear recently in Pasco and Hernando counties.

"The best thing to do is just respect the bear. Don't go chasing after it. Don't run outside going oh, my God. I have to get a picture. Don't do that. If you see him, respect the bear," said Lehr.

Jaime Vaccaro, the Florida Mammals Department Supervisor at ZooTampa, said bears are typically found in Central Florida and South Florida including cities like Ocala.

"Bears are opportunistic and they can smell from over a mile away. It is weird to hear about Pasco county. A lot of times you're hearing about them in Ocala or in the Panhandle. Those are some of the more populated areas where black bears are. It is a little strange to hear that a bear is kind of moving closer, more south," said Vaccaro.

State wildlife officials said during this time of the year, young bears might be leaving the family unit. Officials also said June marks the start of breeding season and bears may travel more widely in search of a mate.

If attractants like garbage, pet food, and birdseed are secured, bears should not linger.

Report human-bear conflicts to the FWC’s Southwest Regional Office at (863) 648-3200.

For more information about the Florida black bear, please visit https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/bear/?redirect=bear.