Bear in tree forces Winter Park museum to close

Florida wildlife officials called to scene


WINTER PARK, Fla. – A black bear camped out in a tree forced a Winter Park museum to close on Sunday, officials said.

As of Monday evening, the bear had left his perch in a tree behind the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens at 633 Osceola Ave.

Homeowners near the museum were notified of the bear report.

"I realize they have their habitat but, unfortunately, this is our habitat as well," said resident Cherrie Langston. "It's frightening as a homeowner and especially as a pet owner that I have a bear lurking in my backyard."

FWC officials said the bear probably traveled down from the Wekiva Springs or St. Johns River area. FWC said they don't plan to remove the bear unless he creates trouble.

Museum executive director Debbie Komanski says she hopes to open the museum on Tuesday to the public without them worrying about the lurking bear.

"Although its unusual he would not be dangerous as long as he's left alone and to do his bear things so he moved around from tree to tree," Komanski said. "He will follow the I-4 corridor or back up to Wekiva Springs area to where he will be a lot more happy and so will we."

On Friday, a bear was safely removed from a tree in Orange County, marking the third bear found near downtown Orlando -- several miles from Winter Park -- in the past few weeks.

The FWC says most bears found in metropolitan places are young, disoriented bears trying to find a new home after being pushed out by more dominant males ahead of breeding season.

According to its website, the museum is dedicated to preserving the works of Czech sculptor Albin Polasek, celebrating representational art and exhibiting regional and international artists. It also hosts events, such as the Winter Park Paint Out, and is available for wedding and meeting rentals.

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