Bears sightings in Lehigh Acres putting residents on notice

Reporter: Justin Kase Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Bears are roaming neighborhoods in Southwest Florida, but most are simply looking for a midnight snack.

There’s been a lot of sightings in Lehigh Acres recently.

Evidently, it’s a bear buffet in many areas around Lehigh Acres. Although trash day is on Tuesday, many trash cans are already outside or sitting at the curb, five days ahead of the next pickup.

FWC said bears could smell food even when it is inside, from over a mile away. And some neighbors are taking extra precautions to keep their families safe.

One man’s trash is another bear’s treasure. It hasn’t taken long for neighbors to realize that is why bears are coming to their neighborhood.

“I noticed my trash can was knocked down. I was like, ‘Oh man, it was a bear or raccoon or something’. And my husband’s like, ‘It was bear, look, he’s right there’. I’m like, I could barely see him,” Esperanza Rodriguez, a Lehigh Acres resident said.

Trash can knocked over in Lehigh Acres. CREDIT: WINK News

Rodriguez was driving home from grocery shopping late Wednesday when a bear dashed away from her trash leaving garbage spread pell-mell around the yard.

“He made his way through there and up that big tree right there,” Rodriguez said.

Only 48 hours earlier, and a mile away, other neighbors had a close run-in with another bear.

Kevin Kobie, from Lehigh Acres, said a bear spared no garbage cans on his street the night before trash day.

“She (his wife) starts screaming, like blood-curdling screams, ‘Kevin! Kevin!’ I think she’s being murdered or something up there like the bear is up there. But she runs down, ‘the bear’s out front,'” Kobie said.

All of this comes as FWC is also warning Floridians that bears are becoming more active that we’re in Spring, which means bears are hunting for food.

Rodriguez, a mother with a newborn, is making changes to protect her family.

“I’m just going to start saving the leftovers for trash day,” Rodriguez said.

Also, Kobie drops his kids off at school rather than the bus stop so they don’t have a run-in with the bear.

“You never know what might happen,” Kobie said.

FWC wants to remind people that it’s illegal to feed bears, and they want you to secure your garbage, pet food, and birdseed.

They also recommend that you walk your dogs on a short leash and be aware of your surroundings.

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