Mother bear shot in Sanford, euthanized as investigators search for cubs

Shooting happened on Friday morning, according to FWC

FWC generic. Florida Fish and Wildlife officer (WJXT)

SANFORD, Fla. – A mother bear was shot in Sanford on Friday morning, leading to a search for her cubs, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

In a release, FWC said law enforcement investigated the shooting, and the bear was euthanized due to the severity of her injuries.

The release shows the bear’s cubs are old enough to survive on their own and were spotted on game cameras eating on their own.

However, FWC bear biologists are still searching for the cubs to continue assessing their condition, the state agency said.

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No information was provided about why the bear was shot or who was responsible, though state law prohibits residents from killing bears without prior authorization.

While the Florida black bear was taken off the Florida threatened-species list in 2012, the rule remains in effect as only around 4,050 bears are estimated to live in Florida, state officials said.

According to FWC, violations of the “Bear Rule” are treated as criminal misdemeanors, which can result in fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail.

FWC officials said there are a few scenarios in which shooting or injuring a black bear is legally acceptable, which include the following:

  • The defendant believed it was necessary to avoid an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.
  • The defendant didn’t purposefully get into a situation in which they might need to do so.
  • There were no other options available to avoid the threat of harm from the bear.
  • The threat posed by the bear was worse than the injuries inflicted on the bear.
  • The defendant stopped injuring the bear as soon as the risk posed by the animal subsided.

For more information on how to deal with bears, visit the FWC’s website by clicking here.

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Anthony, a graduate of the University of Florida, joined in April 2022.