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BEAR WATCH: Black bear continues exploring Pinellas County, now spotted in Oldsmar

FWC biologist believes the bear is likely lost
Oldsmar black bear Cha-Yeng Yang.png
Posted at 9:49 AM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 14:00:26-04

OLDSMAR, Fla. — Residents in Pinellas County, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), have been tracking a black bear in Pinellas County.

FWC believes it's the same bear they've been following from Hernando County.

A doorbell camera from Oldsmar resident Yeng Yang caught the bear on Thursday morning. He said the camera capture the bear around 7 a.m.

"My wife was on a neighborhood Facebook page. There were some notifications on there about a bear sighting so that's when I checked my camera," said Yeng Yang.

FWC says it received two additional sightings of the bear on Thursday, adding that it appears the bear is moving in the direction of more suitable habitat.

Jennifer Rothe said the bear showed up on her security camera on Wednesday night. She lives in Safety Harbor.

The young bear was also spotted in Philippe Park in Safety Harbor. The park reopened on Thursday after closing earlier this week.

"I hope it finds where it's going," said Yang.


FWC believes the same bear was caught on ring security camera footage in a Palm Harbor neighborhood over the weekend.

Mike Orlando, FWC Assistant Bear Program Coordinator, said black bears are looking for a new home around this time of year.

"We think it's a dispersing juvenile bear. We're not sure if it's male or female, but typically they're males and likely broke up from its family group, left mom and is just trying to find a new place to live," said Orlando.

Orlando said it is uncommon to see bears in Pinellas County.

"There's not a whole lot of bear habitat in Pinellas County. Tampa, St. Petersburg isn't the best bear habitat in the state," he said.

Orlando believes the bear is likely lost. He urges people to leave it alone and do not feed it.

"I would probably say Ocala and to a smaller degree the Chassahowitzka population, one of those two populations is likely where it came from, more likely Ocala," he added.

He said the bear is displaying good behavior.

"He's not engaging with people. He's not getting into garbage."

"I think he took a wrong turn. I think he probably found himself at night going down an area that got more populated, more populated. He's probably desperately trying to figure out how to get out of that, a lot of humans in one area. He probably just got lost. They don't get to read maps like we do," he said.

Orlando said FWC has placed a trap in Pinellas County, but trapping efforts are not always successful because bears do not stay in one place for long.

If the bear is trapped, FWC said it would relocate it.

FWC officials encourage the public to report bear sightings in the area of Safety Harbor to the FWC’s Southwest Regional Office by phone at (863) 648-3200.

The agency says transient bears have been spotted in just about every major city in Florida, including Pensacola, Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando and Miami.

For more information from FWC on bears in Florida, click here.