FORT MYERS, Fla. – A bear that was living in a residential area was captured and tranquilized on Wednesday after sending a local elementary school into lock down for a second time in one week.
Three Oaks Elementary School’s mascot is a bear, but a live one spotted near campus was enough to lock the school down on Wednesday. Wildlife officers arrived at the school then headed into some nearby woods in search of the bear.
They found it high up in a tree — too high for officers to hit it with a tranquilizer dart. They later were able to corner the bear in the woods behind the elementary school. It came down after two shots from the dart.
The bear was then tagged and measured to weigh 260 pounds, which 100 pounds more than authorities initially expected. He was removed from the area and will be transported to a reserve, officers with Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission said.
One neighbor, Liz Kragh, said she was not afraid of the bear but was concerned for her pets. She said the neighborhood has seen is share of wild animals.
“I’m not frightened. I have a dog so all of us neighbors are sort of getting together and warning each other to sort of be aware of what’s around us. We’ve had bobcats in our neighborhood and alligators crawling around,” she said. “That’s all apart of living in Florida.”
Bear sightings could become more frequent with an increase in urban sprawl, some experts said. FWC officer Stuart Spoede suggests that residents condition bears using disruptive noise.
“If you come across a bear, it’s in your neighborhood. It’s in your trash. We recommend hazing it,” he said. “Making loud noises, blow a whistle, bang pots together. Try to get that bear to leave so it will associate people with things it doesn’t like.
One couple said they would not be bothered by a bear in close vicinity. Shane Lovell travelled from Southwest Cape Coral to take photos of the bear in Estero.
“I wish there was one running around in my neighborhood. I wouldn’t tell nobody. I’d just watch it,” he said with a laugh. “I mean this is their land, too.”