SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers are investigating after a bear was shot in Seminole County.
Officials said the shooting happened around 2 a.m. Wednesday on Thistlewood Circle. The FWC wouldn't provide further details about the incident -- including the bear's size and the extent of its injuries -- because the investigation is active.
Homeowners in the area said the bear was in a man's garage and was behaving aggressively, which is why he shot it.
"My son woke me up and said, 'There was a bear,' and that he had actually seen this bear," Nancy Gardiner said. "The blinds were open and he saw the shadow come across the window, and he was a little surprised by the size of the shadow."
Residents said it's not uncommon to see animals in the neighborhood and they believe the man did what he had to do to protect himself. Pictures provided by locals showed black bears roaming on sidewalks, in yards and near homes.
John Ray said over the past decade living on Thistlewood Circle he has seen a dozen bears, and has taken pictures of them every time they walk across his yard, around the house and down the sidewalk.
He said that seeing wild animals out there is a way of life.
"Bears are still wild animals. As much as they seem calm, they can still turn on you," Ray said. "I've had them in the garage on those unfortunate nights when my kids leave the garage open."
While hunting bears is illegal in Florida, FWC officials said that anyone can defend themselves from an imminent threat posed by a wild animal. They recommend carrying bear spray that can be used in the event of an attack and following these tips to deter black bears from wanting to prowl on your property.
For a look at frequently asked questions, click here to visit the FWC's website.