TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Possums, squirrels, raccoons, but rarely any bears. The sight of a young black bear roaming around a residential neighborhood near Busch Gardens Tuesday morning was a surprising sight for resident Amos Brown.
“The police officer knocked on the door and he yelled out, ‘Hey! There’s a bear in your backyard, do not come out of your door for any reason!” said Brown.
Smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city, the bear roamed around for a while before perching lazily atop a tree in Brown’s yard on East Linebaugh Avenue.
“(My) wife started talking about the Cincinnati zoo gorilla, mentioning Disney resort alligator…she got my heart pumping. I was starting to think this could turn into something,” said Brown .
“The bear is not an aggressive creature. Black bears aren’t out there hunting for people, but you never know what happened to that bear five minutes prior to you. It could have been hit by a car, somebody could have done something to him,” said Vernon Yates, who operates Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation in Pinellas County.
Yates tells News Channel 8 nuisance bears are typically given three strikes before they are relocated to a zoo or sanctuary or they are euthanized.
“If that bear stayed out there on the edge of Hillsborough County, I guarantee people would have started feeding it and that is one of the worst things you can do to any wildlife,” said Yates.
This bear was lucky. The suspenseful waiting game came to an end when it was tranquilized by a FWC officer. The animal was given a hero’s send-off, complete with applause and cheers from an audience who was glad to see it safely go.
Although this all went down close to Busch Gardens, the park is stressing that this bear does not belong to them, it just happened to be close by. Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have the bear right now and plan to release it back into the wild.