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Florida deputies shoot, kill black bear after fearing it would roam into residential communities

A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022 (2).jpg
Posted at 3:41 PM, Jun 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-20 15:44:58-04

ROYAL PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County deputies on Saturday were forced to shoot and kill a black bear that was roaming around a Royal Palm Beach community, authorities said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said a deputy responded to a reported bear sighting in the area of Crestwood Boulevard, just west of Royal Palm Beach Boulevard, in the Saratoga Lakes community around 8 a.m. Saturday.

The deputy spotted a large black bear — approximately 6 feet tall and 300 pounds — entering some bushes and walking along a fence line.

A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022 (1).jpg
A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.

According to the sheriff's office, the bear eventually went into the backyard of a home, located in the 100 block of Belmont Drive, where it climbed a tree that had a baby swing attached to it.

A woman who lives at the home with her husband and three children — who are between the ages of 1 and 9 — said she saw the bear inside her covered back porch where her kids usually play.

"The bear looked in her direction which placed her in fear for her and her family’s life," the sheriff's office said in a news release.

Eventually, the bear climbed down the tree and continued walking through the neighborhood. At that point, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers and additional PBSO deputies arrived on scene.

Just before 10 a.m., the bear climbed approximately 50 feet up a tall tree in the 900 block of Crestwood Boulevard.

A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.jpg
A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.

"The bear stayed in the tree while FWC officers stood at the bottom of the tree to make sure the bear did not climb down," the sheriff's office said in a news release. "PBSO’s role was to assist FWC Officers until they were able to locate a trapper, tranquilize the bear and relocate it."

When the bear started to climb down the tree, FWC officers and PBSO deputies began "yelling at the bear and hitting the nearby trees to make noise to keep the bear in the tree which worked and the bear climbed back up the tree," the sheriff's office said.

Hours later, around 12:30 p.m., the bear once again started climbing down the tree. Law enforcement officers again yelled and made noise to try to keep the bear in the tree, but this time it didn't work, and the bear continued climbing down.

"It should be noted that the bear had NO place to roam safely!" the sheriff's office said. "The incident location and surrounding area are residential neighborhoods and fearing the bear would roam into the residential communities and/or impede traffic flow on the adjacent roadways PBSO was faced with making the decision to discharge their shotguns striking and killing the bear."

The FWC said the incident is currently under review.

A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022 (3).jpg
A black bear on Crestwood Boulevard in the Saratoga Lakes community in Royal Palm Beach on June 18, 2022.

RELATED: Black bear spotted in Jupiter Farms backyard

According to the FWC's South Bear Management Unit, bear activity and range in Palm Beach County is considered "rare."

FWC's South Bear Management Unit data, 2022.jpg
FWC's South Bear Management Unit data, 2022.

In 2021, there were 5,726 bear-related calls in the South Bear Management Unit area, which includes Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Monroe, Collier, Lee, and Hendry counties.

According to the latest population estimate from the FWC, there were 1,040 black bears in that region in 2015.

If you feel threatened by a bear or you find a sick, injured, dead, or orphaned bear, call FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.