JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Wildlife officers tranquilized a bear and carried it away from an area of brush next to a south Jacksonville Beach condominium complex early Tuesday morning.
WJXT reports before 7 a.m. the bear -- estimated to be between 300 and 350 pounds -- was reported wandering along First Street South and 11th Avenue South in Jacksonville Beach, according to police.
"I was walking my dog this morning ... and I saw a bear running north on First Street with a group of squad cars following about a block behind it," viewer Aprille County told News4Jax. "Scared me to death as I grabbed my dog and stood still as I saw it run up the Costa Verano driveway and jump at the front doors."
By 8 a.m. Jacksonville Beach police had a perimeter set up around the Costa Verano Condominiums, where the bear jumped the fence and hid in the bushes.
"The bear came off the beach, came around the corner and strolled under there in the courtyard area and he crawled back under there. He hasn't moved. He's been sleeping for a while, from what I understand," said Officer Brad DiFiore.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers arrived on scene and took over as the lead agency. A Jacksonville Beach Fire-Rescue ladder truck was used to get a better look at the area where the bear was located.
FWC officers tranquilized the bear about 10 a.m. and carried it out of the bushes a short time later.
FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker said it appeared to be a bear that had been sleeping in the bushes within the fenced area. It was examined at the beach and found to have no injuries or broken bones.
The bear was taken to Camp Blanding, and officials were allowing it to wake up and not be vulnerable before releasing it into a remote area. The bear was tagged with an ear tag and tattooed lips.
If officials find the bear's best food source is a nuisance to humans, such as someone's backyard, the bear may have to be euthanized.
This is not the first time a black bear has caused some excitement at the beach. In 2003, when there were multiple sightings of a bear in Neptune Beach, police and FWC officers were called, but it was never captured.
Then in 2004, another black bear was spotted in a yard in Jacksonville Beach. It was tranquilized by FWC and relocated to the Osceola National Forest.