2 bear sightings in SWFL just days apart

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
bear video
Credit: WINK News

Two bears spotted just days apart in Southwest Florida. The first lead Naples Police on a search through the city and the second was seen strolling along Bonita Springs Beach.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says there’s no way to know whether or not it’s the same bear. But, there is a reason you may be seeing bears more often.

Russ Fahrner cannot believe there was a bear sighting on the beach. “A bear on the beach!??” Fahrner said.

The bear was caught by a security camera at Doc’s Beach House trotting toward the sand. Another camera, father away, captured a video of the bear on Bonita Beach as well.

“It is wild. It’s wild!” said Bridget Fahrner.

This comes just days after another bear was seen wandering into a neighborhood near Naples City Beach.

The Fahrners live in North Naples and say they’ve never seen this before. “Never have I ever heard a bear on the beach! I’ve heard in garbage, off streets, in peoples backyards,” Fahrner said.

Barb Domino, who lives in North Naples, just had a bobcat come feet away from her lanai.

“I think nature is getting more comfortable with us,” Domino said.

Others, like Bridget, think the back-to-back bear encounters might have to do with land-use changes.

“Folks are encroaching on their habitat so they’re just trying to find a place!” Fahrner said.

While the Conservancy of Southwest Florida says it’s rare to see a bear on the beach, the organization, along with FWC, says June marks the beginning of bear mating season.

This is the time of year when you are most likely to see the wild animal. And, even with spurring development, FWC says the bear population in SWFL has grown in the last several decades, by the thousands.

Because it is bear mating season, FWC says to make sure your garbage is secure. And, if a bear does happen to approach you,  it’s important to remember not to run from the bear.

Instead, stand upright and warn off the bear by talking in an assertive voice. Then, you can plan your escape route.

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